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Arizona teacher posts pay stub online: ‘I need a college degree to make this?’

PHOENIX — During the nationwide outrage and protests over teacher pay, one Phoenix-area second grade teacher decided to post her pay stub to raise the question, is it enough?

“I absolutely love seeing kids engaged and learning,” said Elisabeth Milich, who teaches second grade at Whispering Wind Academy.

While she loves teaching, Milich said she could never do it without her husband’s second income. To illustrate the point, she decided to post her annual salary to Facebook.

The post has since been removed from public viewing.

Milich makes about $35,490 per year. That works out to $639 bi-weekly after taxes and health care for her family is taken out.

“The reality has set in with this state that if you did not have spousal support or somebody else subsidizing your income you could not live on the salary teachers are paid in this state,” Milich said.

That reality and a line she heard recently from Gov. Doug Ducey prompted her to speak out.

“Our teacher pay last year went up 4.4 percent to an average teacher pay of $48,000. Now that’s not enough,” Ducey told KTAR radio this week.

Milich’s raise for next year falls well short of that, she said.

Her pay stub projects she will make $131 more next year, and that’s only because she took 60 hours of professional development classes.

“I actually laughed when I saw the old salary vs. the new one,” she wrote on Facebook. “I mean really, I need a college degree to make this? I paid 80,000 for a college degree, I then paid several hundred more to transfer my certification to Az.”

Her salary after seven years of teaching in Arizona is also $13,000 below Ducey’s claim for the average.

“I don’t know who they’re talking about,” said Milich, referring to the state’s stats on teacher pay. “Because I know what I live. I see my printout. And I can’t tell you how many hundreds of teachers have said mine looks exactly like that.”

Ducey has said the money available for teacher pay is up 9 percent since 2015.