Never (almost) take the first offer

by John Harris


The Duce offered his proposal to help fund education, and I have to say, I’m slightly impressed. Not that the offer is so outstanding, but that he gave it so quickly. That tells me one of two things. Either, he is a horrible negotiator and he just gave us the absolute best offer he could, or, more likely, this is his opening offer and he has WAY more on the table that he could use.

A week ago, Ducey told us we were whiny and he was not giving one cent more than the 1%. Less than a week later, he has given us our first demand as requested and didn’t bat an eye. No pushback from legislature. No negativity with maneuvering around that much cash. No long, drawn out board meetings with corporations demanding some incentive to allocate less to private schools. They did not take the money from the voucher program already in place. It just seems so….easy.

Proper negotiations follow a certain protocol. If you’ll recall, it is a breach of etiquette to call triple dog dare before calling a triple dare. There is definitely a way to negotiate.

First, know your worth. How much is it worth to be a teacher? If I were to put a price tag on being a teacher, it would be like putting a price on your home. You compare it with similar homes in the area. In our field, the Southwest region of the United States would be our neighborhood. The average salary in our neighborhood is $59,800 (thanks California). The 20% increase would only put us at $51,600. That’s well short of our friends next door.

Next, where is the money coming from? Steve Yarbrough, a huge proponent of vouchers, wants every single education dollar to go to private schools. He does not want to fund public education at all. Do you mean to tell me, there were resources available that have not already gone into our bloated voucher program and Yarbrough did not fight him? That’s very difficult to swallow. If Ducey can so easily move money from ANYWHERE and place it with teacher salary (not as a stipend), then imagine how much more he could give if he squeezed harder.

Next, most experts will tell you not to take the first offer unless it is better than you anticipated, and even then, you should hesitate. The offer he made was at least decent. He didn’t spit in our faces and give us 2% or 5%. Out of all the other demonstrations across the country that have been happening, including some individual districts bumping pay by a few percentages, this is by far the best offer any group of teachers has ever been given. It’s just not enough, and he left out a bunch of other stuff.


This does not address the need for more resources for ESPs. It would be a HUGE slap in the face to every paraprofessional, aide, secretary, custodian, cafeteria worker, bus driver, and every other person who has stood with those of us who happen to stand in front of a classroom. It also does not address healthcare. Our premiums continue to increase. If we were on the state employee health plan, our premiums would go down, our districts would save so much in insurance costs they could afford to give that money back to us, and we could attract future teachers. The pay sucks, but the healthcare is good.

Overall, I sincerely believe that Ducey thinks he is making a good offer. He is trying to be diplomatic in an election year. He is playing politics because he is young and has political aspirations that do not end at Governor. Koch (who could single-handedly fund public education) has too much invested in him. They can’t have him lose this election. If he can pull this off, and win public approval, he’s on his way to the White House.

This deal is just not nearly enough. And we know that because it came too soon. Let’s now ask for 30% for teachers, 30% to all support staff, and open-enrollment in the state employee insurance. Now that we know he can and will bend, let’s see how far we can go before he breaks.