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.


Concerns from a Thoughtful Voter
I would like to see a good economic analysis so I can respond meaningfully with my vote.
Concern: First I would like to be assured that all Arizonans have recovered sufficiently from the financial crisis that they would be able to support these demands.
Response: It is tough to assure that ALL Arizonans have recovered. However, how about signs of a healthy economy?

Arizona’s growth is outpacing the national growth.

Plus, our population is growing as are the number of jobs.
Concern: Secondly the demand for a 20% salary increase is still quite out of line with the raises most of us are getting in the range of maybe 2% to 5%.
Response: If one only looks at the number 20%, it is shocking. This number would put us back where teachers were paid a decade ago.
I’ll try to explain as clearly as possible. This gets complicated quickly, and I’d be happy to share all of the background information. Here’s the situation:
Due to pay freezes, lack of cost of living increases over the past decade, and increased employee contributions to “benefits,” teachers are making less take-home money than a decade ago, without adjusting for inflation!
The gross salaries have increased slightly the past two or three years, 1% to 4% depending on where a teacher works, but that is the increase for an entire decade. Inflation has far outpaced this.
Using the government’s inflation adjustment calculator teachers made around $10,000 more in starting pay a decade ago than they do today. That, in combination with years of pay freezes, has veteran teachers often earning less than brand-new teachers with similar educations.
Concern: Thirdly it seems when demanding equivalence with other locales we should verify that cost of living stats are also equivalent with those of those other locales.
Response: This one is actually pretty easy to answer. We are 20th cheapest in the nation. So, right around the middle. Oklahoma, by comparison, is 3rd.
Concern: Finally many of us are now severely underemployed as our jobs in high tech moved to Asia – after ten years working retail a job for which I am qualified finally opened at a salary of 20% less than I was making in 2008. I have yet to see a thorough economic analysis of these issues but as a supporter of education I would love to see one.
Response: This last point is painful for many, and I am very sensitive to this line of thinking. The biggest difference here is public versus private. Education is a public concern and there’s not been a shift in technology or economy (sustained shift negative shift) to cause the education funding issue.
To see an overview of the nature of the situation in Arizona with education and to see why it is “suddenly” a crisis, this 5 minute video can help explain. All of the data is verifiable and I can provide references for any questions one might have.

By Jay Figueroa:

Why are furious with the rhetoric of Doug Ducey? There is a tremendous amount of misinformation being spread. He continually spouts for people to “Get the facts!” It’s his almost childish way of deflecting from the truth. He continually distorts the truth by spouting, “Get the facts!” and then proceeds in telling half-truths of which he fast talks and tries to dominate the conversation before anyone can dig deeper. He knows how TV and Radio work; Get in. Build confidence. Say the word “FACTS” and get out. Well, here are some facts that Doug Ducey does not want you to recall. He only accounts for 2015-present. Enclosed are some Pre 2015 facts that he always leaves out because he is hiding a lot from the public.

Fact: On November 7th, 2000 the voters of Arizona passed proposition 301 part of which secured cost of living increases and increases in inflation.,_Pr…
Here are some highlights: (j) For increases in teacher base level compensation, teacher compensation based on performance, and maintenance and operation purposes.

2. Automatic inflation adjustments in the state aid to education base level or other components of a school district’s revenue control limit. Remember, this is what the VOTERS wanted.

Fact: In the earlier part of this decade then Jan Brewer had a choice to make with the state’s career ladder bonus program. This entailed teachers putting together a portfolio of their work to demonstrate and prove growth over the school year. This was one of the best programs in AZ because it really made teachers strive to do better and improve student performance. Her choice was to fully fund and make these bonuses available to the entire state, or cut the program entirely. She chose to cut. This was a cut of about $8,000 to many teachers who were on the program. In addition to that our salaries were cut a few thousand by our district. Now if you do the basic math. A teacher making $50k has their salary drop $10,000. That’s a 20% reduction in salary that was due to state cuts.…/uploa…/2017/04/Unrestored-Budget-Cuts.pdf

Fact:  The State Legislature started making illegal cuts out of the state’s 301 deal.  They broke the law by doing “their will” and not the will of the voters. Doug Ducey, in capacity of State Treasurer, was directly named in the lawsuit that ordered to make it right.

Fact: Instead of paying back the teachers in full, now Governor Ducey, and the state legislature came up with the prop 123 scam which the state trust land were used to come up with the quick cash to settle. This was a heck of a bold move because the state trust land is there to help education in the case of an emergency. It was his emergency.…/State-Trust-Lands-and-Ed…

Fact: On channel 12 Sunday Square Off in January 2018, Ducey stated that the prop 123 was a settlement of a year long lawsuit he inherited, as if it was from Jan Brewer’s term. He was the state treasurer who was NAMED in the lawsuit. That is a straight out lie unless he has a multiple personality disorder and thinks he is a different person than the state treasurer. He says Prop 123 is a settlement and new money in the same interview contradicting himself. The basis of the story is stating why he thanked the Koch Brothers for enabling him to pay for advertisements that protect his record on education.…/gov-ducey-dismisses-d…/75-508062936

Once again. Doug Ducey does the dance to get himself out of trouble. This time he is robbing the childrens’ future funds to pay for his mistake before. He’s “robbing Peter,”…… to “pay Peter.”…/vote-heres-what-you-need-know-…/

Fact: The lion’s share of the 9% new money that is put toward education is a restitution payment from the past lawsuit. 
To put into perspective. If someone smashes into your car and causes $10K worth of damages.

Then only pays you back $7,000. You would be angry. Then if that same person who hit you, tells others that he gifted you $7,000 in money and that you are greedy for wanting more. You would be irate. Not to mention. You find out that the $7,000 he paid you came from your own rainy day fund? You would be….us.

Please understand that teachers aren’t in this for the money but just want things to be made right. Teachers and children have carried this state by filling the shortcomings of our tax base for the last 18 years. We went from 34th in per pupil spending to 48th. The state legislature would have us believe that a tax increase would be catastrophic. This can be done as a combination of tax increases and removal of some corporate tax breaks. It’s time to give the kids and teachers of this state a break and think of our future.