AZ schools chief weighs in state education plans

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Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Remember when Gov. Doug Ducey described his plan for K-12 schools as a home run for education?

That was two weeks ago.

Now, with the budget wrapped up and the Legislature out for the year, it obvious the governor and the state's schools chief was watching a very different ball game.

"I don't think I would consider it a home run, but I would say we're at bat," Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said Friday morning.

So, sticking with the baseball metaphors, in Douglas' eyes state leaders didn't even hit out of the infield this year.

Overall, Douglas sees lawmakers micromanaging public schools to the potential detriment of school kids.

Case in point, a bill signed by Ducey in late session allowing schools and districts to hire teachers with no training -- just as long as they have five years' experience in related fields.

Supporters say this will ease the current teaching shortage throughout the state.

But Douglas worries that professional experience may not translate into good teaching skills.

For example, she said an expert in computers and technology may not be able to manage a classroom of kids.

"And what are they going to do when that student refuses to sit down and listen. That's part of the classroom management," she said.

Douglas also expressed concern over the rhetoric coming out of the state Capitol.

At one point during the session, one state lawmaker lamented that low paid teachers were taking second jobs to buy boats.

"I don't believe our teachers are out there taking a second job to get a boat or another house," said Douglas who also added that she thinks teachers need the extra money to pay the bills.

Some recent studies show Arizona ranks at the bottom or near the bottom in the country when it comes to teacher pay.

Douglas has proposed a $5,000 teacher pay raise that would have come with a $400 million price tag to the state.

In the end, the governor and the Legislature settled on a 2 percent pay increase phased in over two years.

While Douglas didn't get what she wanted, she wasn't upset, saying the Legislature didn't have a lot of money to spend.

"I hope our teachers take that in good faith because I believe that is the way it is intended," she said of the approved pay increase.

Douglas says she intends to fight for the extension and increase of sales to eventually get teachers a bigger bump in pay.

However, that requires voter approval, meaning it will be another year and a half before the issue would go to the ballot.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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