On November 7th, 2000 the voters of Arizona passed Proposition 301
part of which secured cost of living increases and increases in inflation. This bill would give compensation to teachers based on a performance review and fund some additional needs for school districts based on how all teachers perform. It would include inflation adjustments. Those adjustments never came, and the amounts of compensation were meager.
In the earlier part of this decade, then Governor Jan Brewer and the State Legislature had a choice to make with the state’s career ladder bonus program. This entailed teachers putting together a portfolio of their work to demonstrate and prove growth over the school year. This was one of the best programs in AZ because it really made teachers strive to do better and improve student performance. Her choice was to fully fund and make these bonuses available to the entire state, or cut the program entirely. She chose to cut
. This was a cut of about $8,000 to many teachers who were on the program. In addition to that our salaries were cut a few thousand by our district. Now if you do the basic math, a teacher making $50k has their salary drop $10,000. That’s a 20% reduction in salary that was due to state cuts.
Also the State Legislature started making illegal cuts out of the state's 301 deal, they broke the law by doing “their will” and not the will of the voters. Doug Ducey in capacity of State Treasurer was directly named in the lawsuit
that ordered to make it right. So he should be well aware of our situation.
Instead of paying back the teachers in full, now Governor Ducey and the state legislature, came up with Proposition 123
, in which the state's land trust was used to come up with the quick cash to settle. This was a heck of a bold move because the state land trust
is there to help education in the case of an emergency. Once again, Ducey and the State Legislature do the dance to get themselves out of trouble. This time they are robbing the children's future funds to pay for their mistake before. They’ are “robbing Peter,” to “pay Peter.”
In March 2018, the Arizona Legislature and Governor passed legislation that renewed Proposition 301. It won't go into effect until the previous version of the bill expires, and since the new version was not passed as a ballot initiative, it loses the protection it could have against the legislature slowly chipping away at that money until it is gone.
When our movement started on March 4th, 2018, we didn't know what strength we would grow to. Our movement became a force to move the state, and the governor responded by presenting a deal that would give 20% raises to a select number of teachers, but would a majority of school employees and would only return less than half of the $1.1 billion taken from schools. In response, we made our move.
On April 27th, 75,000 educators, all in red, all in solidarity, descended on the capitol to have our voices heard. We walked out of our schools, closing many districts across the state, and came together to tell our state what we wanted: Fully-funded schools, raises for all school employees, and a guarantee of raises for the future.
They didn't listen. A half-complete assignment is not good enough for educators. So we continue.
We remain Red.