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Cactus Shadows teachers protest low pay

The #RedForEd movement has demanded more money for education in Arizona

Teachers%2C+parents+and+students+gathered+in+front+of+the+school+to+participate+in+a+walk-in.
Teachers, parents and students gathered in front of the school to participate in a walk-in.

Teachers, parents and students gathered in front of the school to participate in a walk-in.

Teachers, parents and students gathered in front of the school to participate in a walk-in.

Grace Carey, staff writer

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In the state of Arizona, teachers are paid very little for the work they do.  The pay crisis started back in December of 2007, due to the Great Recession. Out of all 50 states, Arizona is ranked 49th for the lowest pay in high school teachers, and 50th for elementary school teachers.

After countless years of being underpaid, teachers and students at Cactus Shadows took a stand.

At about 6:30 am, on April 11, 2018, parents, students, and teachers gathered in the front of the school to protest their lack of pay.  At the walk-in, red was worn for the hashtag #RedForEd. The message of the walk-in was simple, protesters want to “reclaim schools” across the state.

“I attended the walk-in because my favorite teacher, Mr. Shipp, was speaking.  I wanted to go and support him,” said Logan McDade, a sophomore.

Low pay for teachers in Arizona isn’t only a disadvantage for them, but for the students as well.  As teachers flee to other states, in search for better pay, Arizona teachers and students have increased class sizes.  This results in teachers having as many as 40 kids per class, not giving them the time to individualize the curriculum.

“I think that it does affect my education, because if teachers are not motivated to do their jobs, then they won’t perform as well in the classroom,” said Cheyenne Yerkes, a freshman.

In 2018, the average pay for teachers, in Arizona, is just under $50,000.  $46,949 to be exact, according to AZ Central. With such low pay, teachers and faculty members of school districts in Arizona struggle with staying in state.  Knowing that pay would be better almost anywhere else in the country is hard to stomach for most.

“It’s very difficult to know, especially the first semester.  It was something that I was constantly struggling with. Knowing that here I am, putting in all this work; I put in 40 hours a week here, I go home and spend three hours every single night, prepping, and some of my friends right out of college are making twice as much as I am,” said Karson Shipp, a social studies teacher.

With the shortage of funding, teachers have begun to protest, both at the Capital and at their school.  One of their demands is a 20 percent pay increase.

“I don’t know if we could achieve a 20 percent pay increase, quite honestly.  I’ve spoken to legislators, we could achieve a 10 percent pay raise actually rather easily,” Christine Marsh, an English teacher.

With the many demands of the AEU (Arizona Educators United), Governor Ducey has managed to meet one of them.  Ducey has promised that a 20 percent pay increase will be made by the year 2020. His plan calls for a ten percent raise next year, five percent the following year, and the remaining five percent in the third year of the plan.

 

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