Monday, May 8, 2017

Ducey's 'Education Budget,' Part 1: A 25 Cents an Hour Raise for Teachers

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 4:13 PM

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It's no surprise Ducey wants it to be known as his "education budget." He can read the writing, and the polling, on the wall. Education is Arizona voters' number one issue, and for all his posturing in that direction, Ducey hasn't exactly earned himself a vote of confidence.

A recent KTAR News/OH Predictive Insights poll tells the story. Education is "the most pressing issue facing Arizona," according to 43 percent of the respondents. By way of comparison, jobs, the economy and health care totaled a combined 29 percent. When asked what grade Ducey has earned on education, respondents gave him a C—just average. More people gave him an F than all his A's and B's added together. As with all polls, these results should be taken with a few grains of salt, but even if the numbers are off a bit, it's clear, Ducey has earned a resounding "Meh" from the voters regarding what he's done for education. And that's not a good thing when he knows his 2018 Democratic opponent is going to be slamming him on education and pushing for more funding.

So Ducey is selling his education accomplishments, hard. Right now, that means pushing what he calls his "education budget." But if you look at the numbers carefully, you'll see it's a mixture of smoke, mirrors and bullshit.

Take a look the graphic-heavy, information-lite page titled, BOUNDLESS OPPORTUNITY: Education Budget 2017 on the governor's website. The only honest words in that title are "Budget 2017."

Here's what the page says under Teacher Pay Raises: "$68 million for a 2% teacher pay raise." If I were feeling generous, I'd call those figures misleading. Since I'm not feeling generous, I'll call them what they are: bullshit. This year, the budget adds 1 percent to teacher salaries, which will cost $34 million. Ducey assures us the raise will go up to 2% next year, but that's just talk at this point. It'll have to be negotiated again in the next budget.

A one percent raise comes to about two dollars a day. If a teacher works a 40 hour week, that's 25 cents an hour. For those teachers who come in early, stay late and work weekends — which, for those of you who believe in the "failing, lazy teacher" meme, includes a whole lot of them — it's closer to 15 cents an hour. Actually, the "education governor" didn't want to raise their salaries even that much. He requested a dollar-a-day raise, or 12 cents an hour, but Republicans in the legislature decided to double it.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Ducey wants us to know he appreciates teachers, 12 cents 25 cents an hour's worth.

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