Just when it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse for Governor Doug Ducey, they did. Arizona’s governor is now facing a major rebellion from teachers fed up with years of bottom-of-the barrel pay and inadequate school funding. Thousands of teachers rallied at the capitol on Wednesday, wearing stickers with a phrase that would strike fear into any governor’s heart: “I don’t want to strike, but I will.” Teachers are threatening to walk out any day now, and the situation has become national news, with coverage from The Washington Post, The NY Times, USA Today, CNN, and NBC Nightly News this week alone.
As Ducey struggles to address the protests, his notorious education record is coming back to haunt him.
- Gave Arizona’s low-paid teachers a one-time, two percent pay increase — while giving his own friends in his administration double digit raises. [Arizona Republic, 10/19/17]
- That low pay has created a teacher shortage crisis, with nearly 2,000 positions vacant as of December 2017 [Arizona Republic, 12/20/17]
- Signed a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher program, which put him in good graces with national conservative groups – including the Koch Brothers network. [Associated Press, 4/11/17]
- Signed a law allowing people without formal training to teach children across the state. [Capital Media Services, 5/2/17]
- Ducey’s proposed $38 million education program increased funding for Arizona’s wealthiest schools by $15 million – while low income school districts only received $13.5 million. [Arizona Republic, 4/24/17]
From Ducey’s perspective, the situation is getting more dire by the day. He’d planned to offer teachers raises of just 1% this year, the second half of a planned 2% over 2 year raise that began in 2017. Now teachers are demanding 20% — and insisting that he veto a slate of new tax cuts until new funding can be found for education. What’s more, a federal judge just ruled that the Ducey-backed Proposition 123, which passed in 2016 and provided $344 million in new money for schools, is actually unconstitutional.
The upshot? In the words of Jeff DeWit, Republican state treasurer, the governor’s education funding plan is, at this point, “a burning, heaping pile of trash.”
Meanwhile, in the wake of a fatal driverless car crash in Phoenix last week, Ducey is being confronted by an international outcry over his decision to allow Uber to secretly test driverless cars on Arizona’s roads. And he continues to face fall-out from his support of Theranos, the disgraced biotechnology company.
It’s been one hell of a month for Doug Ducey, and it doesn’t look like things are getting any better any time soon.