AEA President speaks about possible Arizona teacher walkout

The legislation introduced by Republican Sen. Steve Smith was set for a Monday Commerce and Public Safety Committee hearing but was delayed until Thursday for changes

Vote on possible teacher walk-out to be announced later tonight

Rep. Anthony Kern called the refusal of teachers to settle for a big pay boost "a joke" that will hurt them.

The walk-out announcement comes after weeks of walk-ins, as teachers across the state mobilized behind the #RedforEd movement.

Many at the walk-ins said they had either already voted to support a walkout or were strongly considering it. "We have kids sitting in broken desks studying out of 25-year-old textbooks in a room with a leaky ceiling. Because of that, GESD schools will be closed for the length of the walk-out". If enough staff choose to participate in a walkout, our schools may be understaffed and we will be unable to properly supervise students safely.

The organizers say they are confident school superintendents and school boards will support their effort. Other districts will likely follow suit.

Even so, Karvalis, an organizer, struck a defiant note Thursday night.

"This is undeniably and clearly a mandate for action, " he said. And it does not address years of chronic underfunding that have left some school buildings crumbling, equipment broken and textbooks outdated, Karvelis said. "I've said multiple times, 'I don't care who throws the touchdown, I want to win the game'". Teachers will walk out of classrooms starting April 26. Eventually, state-level policymakers were going to attempt to divide the movement by meeting some of the demands.

Arizona teachers are also covered by Social Security (teachers in 15 other states are not).

"No one wants to see teachers strike".

In some ways the tally is not a surprise. Some conservatives were never onboard with Ducey's offer.

Part of that is because it fails to include support staff, from reading specialists to custodians and bus drivers.

Ducey's office did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

"The Legislature is still in session, so they can fix that in just a few days", Thomas said about the funding problems.

Schools shut down for over a week because of the strikes, as teachers called on the state legislature not to get rid of benefits, such as health insurance, without giving raises to make up for the change. He said, though, it will have to be more than a simple majority, with support from multiple areas of the state. There had been talk of opposition from some rural educators concerned about parental backlash.

Walls said she received an email from her SAT near midnight this week about the AzMerit testing. "And that's what we're calling on them to do by Thursday, is meet us at the demands". He said he could do so without raising taxes, because the state's economy is improving and existing state programs could be cut. That's no wonder when one takes into account the regressive nature of the tax system in Arizona.

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"It's their job to find the money, " he said.

A walkout could push back graduation for high school seniors, but some educators said the delay is a small price to pay in the long term.

"I'm all for a strike", Jane, a teacher in Phoenix, told the WSWS Teacher Newsletter.

"We think it's important that we get money into the teachers' hands in a significant amount as soon as possible, " Essigs said.

But there also are lawmakers who have been less than sympathetic with teacher demands for a 20 percent pay hike and who would likely be just as happy to scrap that proposal. Most districts spent between 10 and 16 percent; the national average is 11.2 percent. At $47,403, the average Arizona teacher's salary has fallen more than 10% since 1999 when adjusted for inflation. Prop. 301 is the six-10ths of 1 percent sales tax approved in 2000.

Arizona elementary school teachers rank last in the nation for pay, and its high school teachers rank 49 of the 50 states, according to a study released a year ago by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

Students across the state may be staying home tomorrow, but for now, school officials said they're expecting everyone to show up for class.

#RedforEd is not about teacher raises.

It was that support that effectively forced Ducey to craft the offier. Two education advocacy groups that originally expressed support for Ducey's plan withdrew it once it became obvious the money wasn't there to make it feasible.

The walkouts are occurring from state to state because of the Supreme Court decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez ruled that there is no fundamental right to education in the U.S. Constitution. Educators want more details about the proposed raises.

But Ducey's offer of capital funds was not entirely voluntary.

School districts are now planning whether to close schools. And efforts by the state to have that lawsuit dismissed have been rejected.

Jennifer Grygiel, a communications and social media professor at Syracuse University, said people are increasingly realizing they can coordinate online for social causes, such as the #MeToo movement.

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