Conservative group says teachers shouldn't blame Gov. Ducey for low pay

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Matthew Simone, who works for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, says teachers should focus their frustration at school boards and not Gov. Doug Ducey, and the Republican-led Legislature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Matthew Simone, who works for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, says teachers should focus their frustration at school boards and not Gov. Doug Ducey, and the Republican-led Legislature. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Jim Lemmon, a member of the Tempe Elementary School board, says years of budget cuts at the state level have forced the district to make a tough choice over how to spend their money. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jim Lemmon, a member of the Tempe Elementary School board, says years of budget cuts at the state level have forced the district to make a tough choice over how to spend their money. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

On the brink of a historic teacher strike in Arizona, an influential conservative group says teachers are blaming the wrong people for their low wages. 

Matthew Simone, who works for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, says teachers should focus their frustration at school boards and not Gov. Doug Ducey, and the Republican-led Legislature. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Schools in Crisis]

"There should be more of a lens put on the school district governing boards right now as they're making decisions to close and no one's talking about their budgets," Simon said Tuesday afternoon. 

State leaders play a large part in school funding since they decide how much money is spent on education every year. But after that, it's largely up to the individual school districts to steer where that money goes. 

[RELATED: Q&A: How walkout by Arizona teachers is expected to play out]

Simon says many districts are choosing to not pay their teachers better wages, resulting in lower teacher pay overall. 

In a blog posted on the Goldwater Institute's website a few weeks ago, he compared the Tempe Elementary School District to the Alhambra School district. 

[RELATED: Arizona school districts release plans for teacher walkout]

Both districts have roughly the same number of students and their teachers have nearly the same years of experience. 

However, the report shows that Tempe pays their teachers 30 percent less than Alhambra. 

Jim Lemmon, a member of the Tempe Elementary School board, says it not that simple. 

He says years of budget cuts at the state level have forced the district to make a tough choice over how to spend their money. 

[RELATED: Valley businesses offer child care during teacher walkout]

"As a school board member, we try and meet with our teachers and our association and figure out how can they succeed in helping our kids. One of the ways to do that is to have a smaller more effective learning environment for our children," Lemmon said. 

He added that the district can't pay to lower class size and pay teachers at the same time because they now receive less money per pupil than they did 10 years ago. 

[RELATED: Arizona teachers vote to walk out on Thursday, April 26 over education funding]

And that is reflected in the numbers published by Goldwater. They show Tempe teachers do make less, but the district also has seven more schools and significantly lower classroom sizes. 

"So you have fewer children in more classrooms and that costs money," Lemmon said. 

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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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