Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Arizona Teachers Walk Out on Thursday After Budget Deal Drags

By Mark Athitakis By Mark Athitakis
Charlie Simmons | 04 May, 2018, 13:54

The strike had closed more than 1,000 schools, keeping more than 800,000 students out of classrooms statewide.

The action came after a weeklong teachers' strike that shut down classes for the majority of the state's 1.1 million public school students. While many teachers are happy that lawmakers have responded, others note that the budget plan falls short of demands.

Gov. Ducey also said on Twitter Thursday morning: "This raise is earned, and it is deserved".

The Arizona Senate has passed a $10.4 billion state budget plan that provides more than $300 million in raises for numerous state's striking teachers after working all night. Ducey signed the budgetary measure that provides for the teacher raises, HB 2663, around 6 a.m.

Budget cuts over the last decade have cut to the community colleges of Arizona. Teachers sought a return to pre-recession funding levels, regular raises, competitive pay for support staff and a pledge not to adopt any tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said Thursday that teachers should focus on getting a new bill on the ballot in November that will give teachers more leverage and pay.

"This budget supports Arizona's top priorities by improving the public education system and rewarding our teachers", Ducey tweeted out on Tuesday in support of his plan.

The Republican governor called the bill "a real win" for teachers and kids in from his office as he signed it Thursday morning after all-night legislative sessions by the GOP-controlled House and Senate.

The bill then went to Gov. Doug Ducey who signed it nearly immediately.

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The Arizona verdict comes at the tide of walkouts in other states-Virginia, Kentucky, and Oaklahoma-all red states that are demanding more for education.

While teachers say they love what they do and it's a calling, they're hoping a new superintendent will mark a new day for Clark County educators.

Salary aside, there are the things that Democrats sought to add to the spending plan and Republicans voted to reject.

"We have so many people now that are paying attention to what's going on, they will never turn away from this fight now", he said.

Through labor militancy, Arizona teachers succeeded in forcing Republicans to make investments in public education that they did not want to. "You can't set a house on fire, call 911 and claim to be a hero". To keep lawmakers accountable, teachers took photos of the vote count screen revealing how many lawmakers voted to increase funding for private prisons or voting against expanding the definition of a teacher. That included phasing out some tax exemptions and eliminating the ability of individuals and corporations to divert some of what they owe in state income taxes to help children attend private and parochial schools. "I'm ready to go back", she said.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who has been a vocal opponent of the teacher walkout sought to make it illegal for teachers to "use classroom time to espouse political ideology or beliefs, " language that could be read to preclude teachers from wearing their #RedForEd T-shirts in class. Thousands of Colorado teachers rallied at the state capitol Monday.

"I think that's inherently wrong", Smith said.

Sen. Steve Farley voted for the bill.

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