Series wrap-up: ‘The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher’

Jun 7, 2018, 3:45 PM | Updated: 3:52 pm
Teachers chant as they continue to protest at the Arizona Capitol Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Phoenix...
Teachers chant as they continue to protest at the Arizona Capitol Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Phoenix. After an all night legislative budget session the legislature passed the new education spending portion of the budget and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed that part of the budget. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Education became the year’s biggest story in Arizona when teachers decided they’d had enough of low wages and poor conditions and took their grievances to the state Capitol.

It culminated with a six-day statewide walkout that shut down schools and forced lawmakers’ hands. The teachers returned to their classrooms in early May after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a budget that included a 20 percent increase in pay by 2020.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. KTAR News 92.3 FM took an in-depth look at the aftermath of the teacher uprising and what comes next in a multimedia series called “The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher.”

A month after six-day walkout, pay for Arizona teachers trending upward

Elementary school teachers in Arizona are no longer the worst-paid in the country: Arizona now ranks No. 49 nationwide for elementary school teacher pay, behind Oklahoma.

Arizona also moved up one spot for high school teacher pay, to No. 48. The median pay for Arizona elementary school teachers is $44,990 and $48,306 for high school teachers.

Teachers say 20 percent pay raise helps, but concerns remain

When Elisabeth Milich posted a photo of her teacher salary on Facebook, she never expected it to go viral. Milich, who’s been teaching for seven years, said she did it to make a point.

She said the pay raises will help, but she’s still worried it won’t be enough to keep new teachers from fleeing to nearby states.

Despite raises, award-winning teacher doesn’t regret leaving job

Despite pay raises being implemented throughout the state, an award-winning teacher who left the Arizona education system for financial reasons said she doesn’t regret her decision.

“I am so sad to leave the teaching profession,” Mallory Heath said. “It really is something I felt called to do. “But that being said, the job that I’ve stepped into is going to give more than that. As far as finances go, I’m not regretting my decision.”

Teacher hopes pay raise will help her cut back at 3 side jobs

An elementary school teacher in Phoenix said she hopes a 20 percent pay raise will allow her to work fewer hours at one of her three side jobs.

Lisa Kling said that on top of working as a teacher at Sunnyslope Elementary School, she works as a Starbucks barista, a group fitness instructor and recently started an online wine service.

Gov. Doug Ducey says state of education in Arizona is ‘on the rise’

A month after teachers throughout the state walked off the job to force increased funding for their profession, Gov. Doug Ducey said things are looking up for education in Arizona.

“The state of education in Arizona is on the rise,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM recently. “We’ve got a great place to live, work and play. It’s also going to be a great place for our kids to get an education.”

Teacher running for office: ‘I can no longer sit back’

When House Majority Leader John Allen said teachers were working second jobs because they want to buy boats and bigger houses, it outraged an eight-grade teacher who’s now running for his seat.

Jennifer Samuels, who teaches at Desert Shadows Middle School in Scottsdale, collected more than 500 signatures in 17 days, with the help from other teachers, to put her name on the ballot in November.

‘Red for Ed’ movement sparks Arizona teachers to be politically engaged

Energized educators are continuing their efforts by volunteering for political campaigns and vowing to make their voices heard in the upcoming elections. And some are running for elected office.

More than 40 current or former educators, most of them Democrats, filed petitions by the May 30 deadline to run for legislative seats.

Arizona teacher: Education will be No. 1 ballot issue in November

One education official in the state said she believes education will continue to be a priority, especially for voters in November.

Beth Lewis, a teacher and the chair of Save Our Schools Arizona, said the Red for Ed movement opened many teachers’ eyes to the fact that there are people in the state Capitol and on school boards who are not working in their best interest.

Poll: Arizona voters strongly support measure to tax rich for education

A proposed ballot measure that would tax the wealthy to fund public schools has strong support from Arizona voters, a new poll found.

The poll by FM3 Research, a California-based research firm, shows 65 percent of the Arizona voters surveyed support the Invest in Education Act.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Series wrap-up: ‘The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher’