Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is asking voters to permanently extend and expand Proposition 301 monies to a full 1 percent, which would result in an 11 percent raise for teachers and $100 million for school facilities.
“My proposal would generate $400 million annually for teacher salaries and school buildings,” Douglas stated. “By setting aside the majority of this funding for teacher salaries, we will provide close to an 11 percent raise for teachers in the first year, which means nearly $5,000 more in take-home pay. Using the remaining funding for school facilities can help address another looming crisis, which is the depreciation of our school buildings and infrastructure.”
Douglas is clearly in campaign mode so she announced her proposal during her presentation to the Arizona Business Education Coalition (ABEC).
Douglas’ proposal would dedicate $300 million per year to teacher salaries and $100 million per year to school capital repairs in the first two years. In years three and beyond, the plan calls for $350 million per year dedicated to teacher salaries and sets aside $50 million per year for school capital.
Douglas also expressed support for the restructuring of current Proposition 301 funding to allocate even more money for teacher salaries.
Retired teacher and education activist Rich Kronberg stated, “Douglas is definitely on the right track in focusing efforts on doing what can be done to attract and retain quality teachers for Arizona’s students. All the research out there supports the notion that the most important piece in a quality education is a series of great teachers. Quality teaching is, in fact, the only variable schools provide that make a significant difference in student achievement.”
“While competitive compensation is not the only variable that matters when it comes to attracting and keeping great teachers in a school district or a state, it is undeniably an important component,” continued Kronberg. “Every time there is a vacancy for a teaching job, the attractiveness of the position – including the level of the compensation – determines how many applicants there are to fill the vacancy. Every opening draws a normally distributed curve of applicants. There are a few great ones, a few awful ones, and a big bunch in the middle. The larger the pool of applicants the greater the likelihood that the one chosen to fill the vacancy will be a great teacher rather than a mediocre one who is applying for a job in Arizona because they do to have the marketable skills to get a job in a more attractive location. The specific language of the proposition should require districts to use all – or nearly all – of the funds generated for teacher compensation for that express purpose. There should be no repeat of the despicable actions of the former TUSD superintendent who failed to give more than a third of the money to teachers and used it, instead to pay bonus money to his useless central administrators.”
“I like the proposal. Superintendent Douglas only needs to add a provision that would expose and nail districts who hoard their teachers’ money,” said retired Tucson Unified School teacher Lillian Fox. “I’m sure when 301 was designed and passed, nobody ever dreamed a school district would hoard $14.9 million of the teachers’ performance money! In contrast to TUSD, Mesa, a much bigger district, had a surplus of $200,000.”
“Another useful provision would be a requirement for districts to notify every teacher in the district of how much unspent teacher money was left at the end of each year & maybe require districts to post that information with their job listings for teachers,” said Fox. “Teachers and applicants for teaching positions need to know about their district’s ethics.”
“I’m sure teachers and tax payers could come up with appropriate penalties for superintendents and CFO’s who don’t pay teachers their money,” concluded Fox.