Gov. Ducey calls #RedForEd movement 'political theater,' says teachers should 'know the facts'

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Another #RedForEd rally at KTAR Tuesday, April 10 (left) and Gov. Doug Ducey at 3TV/CBS 5 (Source: Steve Aron, 3TV/CBS 5 and 3TV/CBS 5) Another #RedForEd rally at KTAR Tuesday, April 10 (left) and Gov. Doug Ducey at 3TV/CBS 5 (Source: Steve Aron, 3TV/CBS 5 and 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

With Arizona educators on the verge of a strike, Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday dismissed the #RedForEd movement as “political theater" and said teachers should "know the facts" about education spending.

His comments come as Arizona teachers are threatening to walk out of the classroom if the governor doesn't boost school funding and give Arizona teachers, who remain among the lowest paid in the country, a 20 percent pay raise.

[RELATED: Arizona teachers demand 20 percent raises during statewide protests]

[INFOGRAPHIC: How AZ teacher pay compares to other states]

Ducey said he's committed to passing his current budget proposal which adds $400 million to K-12 schools, including $34 million for a 1 percent pay raise for teachers.

Over the past month the grassroots group, Arizona Educators United, have held massive #RedForEd rallies at the Capitol to pressure Ducey and Republican lawmakers to cough up more money for schools.

One of the organization's leaders, Noah Karvelis, says the governor has ignored their requests for a meeting, telling the Associated Press that he sees no choice but to walk out.

The governor appeared uninterested in meeting with teachers associated with Karvelis's group, saying he will continue speaking with superintendents and other education administrators he called, "the decision makers."

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona school in  crisis]

"I'm staying out of the political theater, OK, so we're working on the policy," Ducey said after he was asked about meeting with the teachers behind the #RedForEd protests.

"I said I'm supporting the teachers, I think you know the people that founded 'Redf or Ed,' when they kicked it off, they announced an endorsement of my opponent in the governor's race; I think that's political activity." the governor added.

[RAW VIDEO: 'I'm staying out of the political theater...']

Since starting, #RedForEd has partnered with the state largest teachers union, Arizona Education Association, that endorsed David Garcia, a Democrat running for governor. 

The governor also defended his record on education during an appearance on "Good Morning Arizona."

[WATCH: Gov. Ducey talked about border safety and education on "Good Morning Arizona" Tuesday]

"I think it’s important that our teachers know the facts on what's been put forward in K-12 education," he said. "Since I came into office in 2015 we've put $1.7 billion dollars into K-12 education nine percent of that has been available for teacher raises and teacher pay that goes into the paycheck or hiring new teachers."

Beth Simek, the president of the Arizona PTA, called the governor's remarks "disappointing" and said it's now likely teachers will strike.

[RELATED: AZ teachers considering strike if school walk-ins don't prompt change in pay]

[RELATED: AZ teachers increase protests and rallies; threat of strike looming]

Simek then took a shot at the governor's signature achievement in education, Proposition 123. This is the 2016 voter-approved ballot initiative that raises $3.5 billion dollars for schools by tapping the state land trust.

[REFRESH YOUR MEMORY: Gov. Ducey declares victory for Prop. 123 | Education funding in state budget hinges on Prop 123]

"Prop. 123 is not new money; it was to settle a lawsuit. He promised a next step, those next steps have been tax cuts, tax credits and more loopholes for corporations, not support for our teachers," she said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona politics]

Teachers and allies rallied outside the KTAR studios Tuesday afternoon where Ducey has his regular radio address. Organizers with Arizona Educators United (AEU) said the governor's political remarks were a "slap in the face." The grassroots group has been vocal in the effort to get livable wages for teachers and support staff. AEU is not a union.

Organizer Noah Karvelis maintains AEU is non-partisan. With Ducey's refusal to meet with #RedforEd advocates, Karvelis says a strike is nearing.

"We're ready to act; we're ready to act soon here and so I think you can expect a date announcement potentially in the next couple days or so," says Karvelis.  "We are going to do everything we can to get that out so people can organize around it  and parents can get ready."


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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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