Arizona teachers vote to walkout starting next week

Arizona state Sen. Steve Smith R-Maricopa speaks during a Joint Border Security Advisory Committee at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix

Subjects range from regulation of electric bicycles and public meetings to warning parents about the dangers of interscholastic sports. He had just announced a funding plan that he claims will raise Arizona teachers' pay by 20% by 2020 and raise education funding by US$371 million by 2023.

However, the teachers argue that the governor's proposed plan neglects other demands, including increased school funding and pay raises for school receptionists and bus drivers. "It's time to get it done".

The teachers' protests and strikes in the USA are part of an expanding wave of strikes by university lecturers and teachers internationally.

Teachers plan to walk out Thursday, with three days of walk-ins leading up to the event, said Noah Karvelis, a teacher and leader with the grassroots group Arizona Educators United.

That includes a 20 percent pay hike.

In a separate announcement, Save Our Schools Arizona announced it, too, can not support the governor's proposal.

And there's something else.

They say teachers will continue walk-ins Monday, April 23 through Wednesday, April 25, and officially walkout Thursday, April 26.

The educators are not alone in that belief.

"We received a report yesterday from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that contradicts some of what we've been hearing so we continued to do some of our own research", Simek said in a video posted on Facebook.

"One of the other things is the desperate need to connect teachers across state lines", he said.

Yuma School District One also released a statement regarding the upcoming teacher walkout.

Lawmakers and even Ducey himself drained that fund years ago in their effort to balance the budget.

"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".

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"I've been listening, and I've been impressed", said Ducey at the press conference. And he termed any move to use those dollars a "shell game".

Simek stressed that she is not criticizing Ducey for coming up with a plan.

Erickson is joined by a growing group of voices calling on Governor Doug Ducey to veto the bill, like the group called FIRE, which stands for Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

But ultimately, he said, it's not up to educators to come up with a solution.

Joe Thomas, president of the AEA, said 78 percent of the teachers voted for a walkout.

"He's willing to sit down with people who want to actually solve problems and get a raise to teachers, " Scarpinato said. The state's largest, Mesa Public Colleges in suburban Phoenix, would shut and hourly staffers wouldn't be paid, Superintendent Michael Cowan has stated. "I felt better today, when we received an update from the governor's office indicating that the proposed 10 percent raise will be given to ALL classroom teachers in FY2019 without cutting services in important social programs such as AHCCCS".

And Gov. Doug Ducey, who last week announced a proposal to increase teacher pay by 20 percent by 2021, used his first State of the State speech in 2015 to blame school districts for spending "far too much on administrative costs" instead of directly on instruction. Her district had lost a total of1.6 million on the previous five years as a result of funding cuts, based on taxpayers, and the faculty board had come out in favour of their #RedForEd motion.

"The governor has been listening, " Scarpinato said.

Lecturers on each side of the walkout vote have shared considerations. And he saw that the community supports us.

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

The fact this is an election year has not been lost on those involved.

"Our teachers have earned this raise", the governor wrote in the letters. Matthew Benson, a conservative communications operative with Arizona P.R. firm Veridus, suggested that the legitimacy of the walkout vote was in question on Thursday.

RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said the 30-second ad will be running statewide on broadcast TV and cable outlets. The national average for 2015, the most recent year data is available from the National Center for Education Statistics, is 60.7.

By law, the RGA's spending can not be coordinated with Ducey's own reelection campaign.

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