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Arizona Education Groups Announce Support Of Governor's Pay Raise Plan

Arizona PTA President Beth Simic speaks at a press conference at the Capitol April 16, 2018.
(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
Arizona PTA President Beth Simic speaks at a press conference at the Capitol April 16, 2018.

Arizona education groups came out Monday to support the governor’s plan of raising teacher salaries 20 percent by 2020.

Groups like the Arizona School Board Association and Arizona PTA touted the plan as a step in the right direction for a state that has slashed education funding for years.

ASBA director Tim Ogle says while the proposal still needs refining, any money for schools is a good thing.

“We have individuals who have said they’re willing to put this piece of legislation into law," Ogle said. "They’re willing to sign their names on that and put their careers and credibility at stake to make sure this gets over the finish line.”

The teacher-led grassroots groups, that organized the rallies that forced Ducey into reacting with the plan, were not at the press conference, and are still skeptical.

But Arizona PTA President Beth Simek said it’s time to start talking about plans like Ducey’s to get more money into classrooms

“So instead of getting swept up in the magnitude of all of this and having cynicism and listening to rumors, parents know that engaging in ideas is far more productive than just dismissing them outright,” Simek said.

When asked by reporters at the Capitol whether the plan ensures all teachers get a 20 percent raise, or whether this will solve the problem of constant underfunding, Linda Lyon with ASBA became defensive about the groups’ efforts.

“You’re grilling the people who are working hard on behalf of our one million public school students in Arizona when the people who are in that building, and that building, and that building are the ones who have been withholding the funding,” Lyon said, pointing to the Capitol buildings.

The governor’s plan still needs more details on where the money will come from to fund the raises, and still needs to be approved by the Legislature.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the spelling of Beth Simek's name.

Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.