At the start of 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey indicated in his State of the State address that increasing education funding would be a priority in his budget. School administrators we spoke to in the early months of the year discussed a desperate need for funding to retain teachers and make improvements to infrastructure.
By spring, the #RedforEd movement emerged, and its calls for pay raises were emboldened by teacher strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma, among other states. As demonstrations continued and the likelihood of a teacher walkout loomed.
Gov. Ducey's office unveiled a plan to boost teacher pay 20 percent by 2020, including a 9 percent raise for the following school year. It did not prevent teachers from staging a historic walkout and march at the Arizona Capitol. Their demands included pay raises for classified staff. A week later, educators returned to class and accepted a budget that reinforced the governor's initial plan.
In September, Arizona 360 heard from a panel of public school teachers in Pima County to discuss the lasting impact of #RedforEd. All were grateful for the raises promised in the coming years, but discussed ongoing funding challenges in the classroom. Some were hopeful the movement had raised awareness among voters about financial shortfalls that would make a difference at the polls.
In November, voters elected educator and political newcomer Kathy Hoffman to superintendent of public instruction.