12 News: Ducey Makes Unverified, False Claims About Teacher Pay in Arizona

PHOENIX – Arizonans proved that Doug Ducey has not only failed to improve the state’s education system, but he’s tried to lie his way out of it too. The startling news dropped on the day when thousands of teachers wore red for #REDforED, a day-long protest for higher wages and better career opportunities in Arizona’s education system.  

“Doug Ducey can no longer lie his way out of his failure to invest in our state’s teachers, children, and school system. Ducey’s business approach to education has failed Arizona,” said Herschel Fink, executive director. “Arizona’s teachers are the worst paid in the nation and our schools are severely underfunded – and it’s all Doug Ducey’s fault. It’s time to #DitchDucey this fall for mismanaging the future of Arizona.”

12 News’s fact check only adds to the haboob of coverage spotlighting Doug Ducey’s mismanagement and dysfunctional approach to Arizona’s education system. Meager wages and underfunded schools have consistently placed Arizona’s schools at the bottom of the nation. Further, Ducey’s failure has dragged Arizona to rank as one of the worst states in the country.

Arizonans and even the national media have taken notice, and it’s why the Arizona Democratic Party is calling on the state to #DitchDucey this November.

12 NEWS: Ducey Makes Unverified, False Claims About Teacher Pay in Arizona

“He says Arizona's teachers are in the middle of the pack, but his information may be misleading.” […]

“When pressed with questions about Arizona’s poor public teacher salaries, Gov. Doug Ducey made two comments that 12 News verified are unsupported or simply false.

Speaking to KTAR 92.3 in November 2017, Ducey responded to a question about Arizona’s national ranking being No. 49 or No. 50 for teachers’ salary.” […]

“Ducey argued that the numbers may be skewed when cost of living is taken into account.” […]

“The 12 News Verify team found this statement to be false.

“Ducey’s office confirmed to 12 News he was referencing a finding in the Arizona Tax Research Association’s (ATRA) 2017 report on Arizona’ K-12 Finance Statistics. The statistical ranking has nothing to do with cost of living measures, but rather ‘per-capita income’ in each state. When pressed about why Ducey couched the study in the “cost of living” category, which economists often use to examine salaries, a governor’s spokesperson, Patrick Ptak, told 12 News by email that ‘He (the governor) may have misspoke.’

In fact, research that accounts for cost of living places Arizona near the very bottom when it comes to teacher pay. A study last year by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU found that when adjusted for cost of living, Arizona ranks 48th in high school teacher pay and dead last in elementary teacher pay.

A new study by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability found similar conclusions. It actually compared teacher salaries to cost of living by cities nationwide. Cities in Arizona rank last or near last in every single category.

The ATRA statistic referenced by Ducey compares teacher salaries to “per-capita personal income” of everyone living in the state working in every industry. When that statistic is taken into account, Arizona teachers rank 28th.” […]

“During the same interview on KTAR, Gov. Ducey said:

“I’ve had teachers come up, grab me by the arm and said ‘thank you.’ I said ‘what are you thanking me for?’ They’ve had a $10,000 raise. I’ve had other teachers who have not had a raise in the last three years.”

12 News found this statement to be unsupported by available evidence.

Ducey was referencing the perceived disparity of teacher raises from one school district to another. During the interview he suggested that some school district leaders could be doing a better job distributing money made available to them by Proposition 123.

So are teachers getting $10,000 raises?

12 News can’t find any evidence to support that claim. We first filed a public records request asking Gov. Ducey’s office for evidence of $10,000 raises since 2016. A spokesperson for Gov. Ducey told 12 News the governor’s office did not have any related records and suggested that 12 News check with state agencies and organizations that might track such information. 12 News contacted several school districts, The Arizona School Boards Association and The Arizona Educators Association. Representatives of all three said they were not aware of a teacher receiving such a dramatic increase in salary over the past three years.” […]