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AEA News

$5.3 Billion Reasons to Fund Public Education

Arizona has a budget surplus of $5.3 billion. The state has been underfunding our schools for decades and is facing a severe teacher shortage crisis. If we’re serious about getting every child the support they need to thrive, our elected leaders across the state need to address the educator shortage crisis now.
May 31, 2022 Capitol Event
Published: May 31, 2022

On May 31, 2022, hundreds of AEA members across the state held a day of action on the Educators' Budget to urge lawmakers to use the $5.3 billion in surplus and invest in public education.

About a hundred educators showed up to the Capitol to ask lawmakers for their support on the Educators' Budget. Events were also held in Flagstaff, Tucson, and Sierra Vista.

As we stand here, Arizona has a budget surplus of $5.3 billion. We have the dollars now. We need to invest it in our schools and our students today.
Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association President

Arizona still ranks near the bottom in per-student spending and teacher pay, making it harder for schools to keep great teachers in the classroom. Teachers like Mary Gilmore, who is leaving the profession.  She moved in with a relative and took second and third jobs to make ends meet, but still can't afford to follow her calling as a teacher.

I'm here today because I'm asking legislators why are schools facing such a budget shortage when we have $5.3 billion in budget surplus?
Mary Gilmore, former Paradise Valley Unified School Teacher

There aren't enough teachers in the pipeline to fill the vacancies we have. It becomes harder to convince the next generation of teachers like Jonathan Otero, an aspiring educator attending Northern Arizona University.

For decades our schools have been underfunded. Teachers are leaving the classroom at an alarming rate. Teachers are being shown a lack of respect. People have been telling me that now is the wrong time to be an educator. But, we have the money. I think now is the right time because there's $5.3 billion and I'm here to ask legislators to invest it in our kids.
Jonathan Otero, aspiring educator

Now is the time to stand behind our educators, our students and their parents to ensure safety and equity in our public schools. If we have learned anything from last year, it’s that our students and educators need us to invest in them, now more than ever.

We aren’t at the capitol today, but we’re here in Flagstaff demanding action to invest in our students. We have a historic opportunity to invest in public education right now. All across the state today, educators are coming together to demand lawmakers pass a state budget that prioritizes the AEA Educators’ Budget.
Jessica Kitterman, ELL Interventionist at Puente DeHozho

If we are not able to retain teachers and education support professionals because of low pay, it’s the students who lose out in the end. Our state's leaders have the funding, $5.3 billion, now all they need is the will.

We feel that there is a bill that has been due for some time for public schools. The bill is due and we have the money to pay it so let's do it.
Margaret Chaney, Tucson Education Association President

Send a message to your legislators today and ask them to support the Educators' Budget and invest the $5.3 billion surplus in our neighborhood public schools.

Contact your state legislators during this budget process. Call them, email them, and say that you want our schools to be funded.
Rachael Henry, Sierra Vista Unified Education Association President

AEA plans on taking more action as budget negotiations continue at the Capitol. Subscribe to the AEA Legislative Update to stay up to date on the latest.



Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the labor union for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.