The disagreement over education funding is definitely not a new idea. Teachers and supporting staff in Arizona are now fighting back with a walkout on Thursday, April 26th. This walkout is something never seen before in Arizona and has the potential to be the largest walkout protest in the national teacher revolt movement that began with the strikes in West Virginia. Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association created a walkout vote including 57,000 teachers and other employees which resulted in 78% of them supporting the effort. Educators in Arizona are fighting for what they believe has been an insignificant state response about the nearly $1 billion in education funding cuts.
After the occurence of the West Virginia strikes, about a dozen Arizona educators created the #RedForEd movement on social media. The first demonstration of the movement was something everyone could get involved in by simply wearing red to work. The educators expressed their threat to strike at a rally on March 28th unless the state fulfilled their five demands; 20% teacher pay rises, competitive pay for support staff, restoring education funding to the 2008 levels, permanent salary structures including annual raises, and no new tax cuts until the per-pupil funding reaches the national average. However, these demands would cost the state billion of dollars to fulfill. To acquire that amount of money, it would most likely require raising taxes, which could put educators at odds with their governor and lawmakers as they have already stated they are not willing to raise those tax prices.
The governor, Doug Ducey has not said much publicly about his standpoint. On the week of April 12th, he announced his proposal to give the state’s teachers the 20% pay raises they wanted by 2020; no formal budget introduction has taken place yet though. The outcome of the walkout is uncertain with the only reference being the strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma that both lasted nine days but had very different end results. The only thing that can currently be done is to wait for everything to unfold and then decide on further action.
Story by Krislynn Hawkins