‘Red for Ed’ reality: Only 43% of districts gave promised 20% pay raise

Only about 43% of Arizona school districts gave the previously promised 20% pay raise, data shows.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 8:55 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- With talk this week of a proposed $10,000 pay raise for teachers statewide, Arizona’s Family is taking a closer look at the reality of this happening. Back in 2018, teachers pushed for better pay and Gov. Doug Ducey promised a 20% raise in 3 years but that didn’t happen in a majority of districts.

The Arizona Auditor General released a report earlier this year showing the average teacher salary increased by 16.5% or around $8,000, less than the promise of 20% by 2020. That report shows that while most districts increased pay, only 43% of districts statewide actually met the 20% goal since there was no requirement that districts spend the money on teacher salaries.

Arizona’s Family wanted to know how this proposal differs from the “Red for Ed” pay bump that didn’t pan out for all Arizona teachers.

“I think the difference with the 10K thing is that it requires that money to go to teachers,” Dr. Marc Osborn, Governing Board President with the Madison School District, said.

Under the plan put out by Republican Matt Gress who’s running for a house seat, the money would come from the state’s budget surplus and would not raise taxes.

“The good news is the state has been booming economically and that looks like it’s going to continue into the next year, unlike other states, so there’s plenty of resources at the state to fund this program. You know, a $10,000 raise is a huge approach,” Dr. Osborn said.

According to the National Education Association, Arizona is currently 44th in the nation when it comes to average teacher pay with a salary of $52,157. Bumping the average up to around $62,000 would bring Arizona up to #20 in the nation in teacher pay.

“I think if you ask most teachers, pay is a big issue, and having a quality environment where they feel supported. I think that’s the one area that all schools, irrespective of funding, need to focus more on,” Dr. Osborn said.

This comes at a time when there are more than 2,000 teacher vacancies in the state, according to a recent survey done by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association.

“I think if we can take the next big step and getting them into the kind of high 50s, low 60s area as kind of an average is a very good start, at least at the elementary level, a little bit higher for the high school level, but kind of each year moving towards that kind of goal of $75,000 a year for all teachers,” Dr. Osborn said.

Critics of the plan argue and wonder if it will actually get passed or is likely all talk and no action since it’s a campaign push from Gress. The proposal would need to be passed through the state legislature first.