Arizona Teachers Looking To Oklahoma For Inspiration

Friday, March 30th 2018, 9:29 pm

While many in Oklahoma are waiting to see what happens Monday, some Arizona teachers are paying close attention.

Oklahoma ranks 48th in teacher salaries and according to national data from the National Education Association, Arizona is only three spots better.

“Watching Oklahoma, seeing the steps that they take. They are almost going to provide the example of how we should move forward,” said 5th Grade Tucson Teacher Tammy Jo Dublin.

Dublin said in Arizona, teachers are seeking a 20 percent raise, claiming that will keep them competitive in the region. She added the similarities between OK and AZ are striking.

Dublin said both Oklahoma and Arizona have a history of education funding cuts, losing qualified teachers to other states, rely on emergency certification, and seek to put money back into their classrooms.

“They cut one-billion out of funding back in 2008. That was one of our demands, was that they restore education funding to the 2008 level,” Dublin said.

OEA President Alicia Priest says she's working closely with Arizona.

“If we look at that across the nation, and we can be a beacon and show others, you can do this, that this is right for our kids. Absolutely we will take that as a honor,” Priest said.

Teachers to the west don't have a walkout date set yet, and they said it depends on if their state government supplies funds by the end of the legislative session.

Dublin said she's one of the better paid teachers in her district, and only makes ends meet because she also receives a check from her service in the military.

“So, third year teacher with a master's degree, and my take-home pay is $1,043 every two weeks,” Dublin said.

“Whenever we see another group of teachers, standing up to advocate for their students and quite frankly for themselves, that's powerful,” Priest said.

Priest adds one of the speakers during Monday’s walkout will be a leader in the West Virginia teacher movement.

She said teachers are about remaining united, and putting the pressure on states all over the country.