What's gotten into these teachers?
That #RedforEd protest on March 21 was great and all, but it was supposed to be a one-and-done, right? Teachers got to wear those nice, new red t shirts. They went to the Capitol. They told legislators and the press, "We want decent salaries! We want more funding for schools!" They got their few hours of fame. Time to pat themselves on the back and return to their crappy salaries and underfunded classrooms.
That's what they were supposed to do, based on recent Arizona teacher history anyway. Instead, they came out the next Wednesday for another #RedforEd rally and demanded a 20 percent raise.
A 20 percent raise? Are you out of your minds?
The next day, the rally was getting
positive press all over Arizona. And CNN
. And ABC
. And Education Week
. And who knows how many other national news outlets.
Who designed those kickass red shirts anyway?
Meanwhile, Ducey's bully pulpit looked more like a kiddie stool. "Hey, c'mon guys, look at me. You know, the governor? I gave teachers a one percent raise, and there's more where that came from. I managed to pass a tax bill that means, well, it means schools won't get any more money, but they won't lose any either. That's something, right?"
The headline on Howard Fischer's article in the Daily Star print edition reads, Ducey rejects request from teachers for 20% pay hike
. Fischer lets Ducey make his case, but he refutes the "education governor's" claims one by one, doing what a good reporter does. He followed Ducey's spin with the facts.
If teachers were more "reasonable" and demanded, say, a 5 percent raise, Ducey wouldn't look so bad with his incremental one percent raises. But after a 20 percent demand, Ducey has to come up to 10 percent just to meet the teachers halfway. The press is doing the math. A 20 percent raise averages out to $8,500, making Arizona's average teacher salary $51,000. That's still far less than Utah at $55,000 and New Mexico at $59,00.
Hmm. Add 20 percent, and we're still way behind Utah and New Mexico? Maybe the teachers aren't so crazy after all.
Arizona teachers are getting bold. And they're getting heard.
Like West Virginia teachers, who went on strike for a 5 percent pay raise. They defied their union, who wanted them to return to their classrooms when the governor agreed to meet teachers' demands. They wanted to hear it from the legislature. When the legislators came up with 4 percent figure, the teachers stayed out until they got what they were asking for.
Like Oklahoma, where teachers demanded higher salaries, and the legislature approved a $6,100 pay hike. The teachers said, "Sorry, not enough," and plan to go out on strike Monday.
Like Kentucky, where nine counties had to cancel school Friday because so many teachers walked out to protest a change in the state pension that would reduce benefits.
Teachers are getting bolder. And they're starting to win after years of losing.