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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Americans back higher teacher pay, but . . .

Teachers protest outside the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix. Photo: Anne Ryman/The Republic

Arizona teachers won’t return to work until the Legislature passes a budget giving them a 20 percent pay raise, reports NPR’s Colin Dwyer.

For nearly a week, educators have exchanged blackboards for poster board, descending on the Capitol in Phoenix with signs and chants expressing their frustration. Among their demands is a 20 percent pay raise for teachers and certified school staff, smaller class sizes, and efforts to bring teacher salaries in Arizona in line with the national average. As it stands, the average yearly salary in the state is roughly $12,000 less than the national average.

Gov. Ducey agreed to raising pay by 20 percent by 2020, but the budget bill, expected to pass yesterday, is stalled.

Update: The bill passed and the teachers have ended their six-day walkout.

Colorado teachers have been using sick days and unpaid leave to rally for better pay, benefits and education funding.

The rising cost of pensions is shifting money from teachers’ paychecks to retirees’ pensions, reports Brian Eason for Associated Press. “Teachers are being asked to work longer hours at lower pay than their predecessors for benefits that are steadily being whittled away.”

Most Americans support teachers’ right to strike for higher pay, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll. “Just 1 in 4 Americans believe teachers in this country are paid fairly,” reports Anya Kamenetz.

While most Americans say teachers deserve a raise, that view changes with more information, notes Education Next.

In the 2017 EdNext poll, 61 percent favored paying teachers more, but that dropped to 36 percent when respondents were told what teachers earn, on average. “Asked to guess the average yearly salary of a public school teacher, respondents also underestimate salaries by a wide margin.”

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