On Thursday, teachers in Arizona voted to reject a proposed raise offered by Governor Doug Ducey and will stage a state-wide walkout beginning next week. The Arizona Education Association and the Arizona Educators United, a grassroots organization leading the #RedForEd movement, announced yesterday that the walkout will begin on April 26. Should they fail to reach an agreement before then, it will mark the first time in Arizona history that teachers have walked off the job.
Last week, Ducey attempted to prevent a strike by offering teachers a 20 percent raise in salary over three years, starting with a nine percent increase for the 2018-2019 school year. The proposal was rejected by the teachers, however, as it failed to meet their original demands. The educators weren’t just asking for a raise in salary but also increase in school budgets, as Arizona has slashed education funding over the last several years.
According to NPR, Ducey’s plan was initially supported by two major education advocacy groups, Save Our Schools Arizona and the Arizona Parent Teacher Association. Both, however, withdrew their support when it became clear the plan called for taking money from other education employees to pay for the teachers’ salary increases. Beth Simek, President of the Arizona Parent Teacher Association, said that an analysis from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff combined with her organization’s research led the group to reverse course and reject Ducey’s proposal.
“In light of the funding streams that have come to light regarding the ’20 by 2020′ plan, we can no longer support the governor’s proposal,” said Simek. “As a voice for children, we hope to see the governor and this legislature find a sustainable, long-term permanent funding source that does not hurt others in the process.”
Teachers say they are willing to work with the governor to create a new plan, but until they are presented with a plan that is fair to themselves, their students, and their fellow education employees, they intend to strike.