Arizona Teachers Have Issued Their Demands. Now They're Ready to Walk Out

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

Arizona teachers have voted to walk off the job to demand increased school funding, marking a key step toward a first-ever statewide strike that builds on a movement for higher pay in other Republican-dominant states.

"We'll just have to wait and see who comes up with check mate", the teacher said. "They overwhelmingly support walking out".

"When someone hands you a sheet of paper and reminds you of the risk you're taking, you've got to be thoughtful", Thomas said.

The announcement came after 50 percent of district teachers asked to use their time off to join teachers across the state at the Capitol that Friday to advocate for more education funding and retirement benefit protections. But teachers say that won't cut it.

"I want those numbers to kind of sink in, " he told colleagues, saying it will put teacher pay "well above the wage that most Arizonans make in this state". Many teachers say the plan failed to address much-needed funding for classrooms and support staff.

It is unclear what will happen in Tucson, but local school districts have prepared statements and FAQs letting parents know where to find the most current information for their child's school. Last week, Governor Ducey announced a plan to raise teachers' pay gradually so that they'll see a 20% raise by 2020, but support staff were left out of the raises. "That's what they were elected for", he said.

The PTA on Monday embraced Ducey's plan, but Simek says new reports and the group's own analysis shows major flaws. But his funding was dubious.

"The women and men who work so hard to educate our children at our neighborhood public schools have earned a meaningful and sustainable pay increase that's based on a real revenue source, not smoke and mirrors", Rios said. It's also #4 in crowded classrooms.

Arizona House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios released a statement supporting the planned teacher walkout.

The decision to walk out follows similar actions by teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Teachers could face consequences in Arizona, where unions do not collectively bargain with districts and representation is not mandatory.

"We share the same frustration that teachers are feeling, that our schools are desperately underfunded and our teachers are desperately underpaid", Hart said. "He doesn't necessarily have a plan to increase revenue to pay for teacher salaries, (but) the money's got to come from somewhere".

AEA didn't organize the first protests, he explained.

Some protestors targeted an event the governor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Rep. Now, AEA is an enthusiastic partner with the citizens group.

The money is clearly there, but it will require taxing the rich to pay for the education crisis that the rich and powerful and their politicians created.

Ducey has proposed to give teachers a 20-percent pay bump by 2020. Teachers and their allies realized quickly it didn't add up, Thomas said in the interview.

Educators have also observed that the proposal would do nothing for school support staff, such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers and janitors. On Thursday night, Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said 78 percent of the votes supported a walkout.

At the committee meeting, the National Rifle Association, Arizona Law Enforcement Association, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Arizona School Boards Association, the Maricopa and Pima County attorneys' offices, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arizona School Administrators, Childhelp, the Arizona Association of Health Plans and the Arizona Sheriffs Association were just some of those who signed in, in favor of the legislation. Also gone is $1.8 million aid for "critical access hospitals" and $4 million that the governor had proposed in additional dollars for developmentally disabled.

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