Arizona Teachers Say They'll Go Back To School If Budget Is Passed

May 05, 2018, 18:21
Arizona Teachers Say They'll Go Back To School If Budget Is Passed

Leaders of an Arizona teachers strike are telling educators to stay out of school again Thursday and come to the state Capitol because the Legislature still hasn't begun debating a budget bill that would give them big raises. But the Republican-controlled House and Senate hadn't started its budget debate, although leaders still hoped to act on the $10.4 billion budget package late Wednesday. The governor is counting a 1 percent raise awarded to teachers this year as part of that raise, meaning it will be 19 percent by 2020.

The governor has promised to bump teacher pay 20 percent by 2020 and restore payments to that fund to pre-recession levels in five years. The initiative proposes creating a dedicated stream of education funding that lawmakers can not use to balance the budget or for other spending.

All Crane School District schools will remain open on Thursday after an announcement was made on their Facebook page. "I don't think $100 million is enough". "To ask us to go back to the classroom, when most people haven't even seen the bill. we've been talking to lawmakers that haven't seen bill yet. we're not going on blind faith".

On Wednesday, teachers were back at the state Capitol. "We've done a lot but this budget does not go far enough for us", organizer and music teacher Noah Karvelis told Reuters.

Grass-roots organizers have urged teachers to hold community events. She later said she did not mean to say legislators would be debating the budget until Saturday. "But they didn't." Karvelis said in a letter sent to supporters Monday that was cosigned by Joseph H. Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. "I commend you for being here", Farnsworth said. "And we have to attract teachers".

Organizers for the walkout said Tuesday that teachers would return to classrooms Thursday if the Legislature passed the budget.

The question for Ducey and Republican lawmakers is how long will teachers remain off the job after walking out Thursday.

Karvelis said the organization will make a final decision based on those answers, but said they will most likely continue their walk out on Thursday.

The protest in Arizona is modeled on a nine-day demonstration in West Virginia, which resulted in a 4 percent raise there, and other actions by educators in Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Demonstrators, now in their third day at the statehouse grounds, came prepared with tents, chairs and plenty of water.

In a tweet Wednesday, Ducey said he is ready to sign the bill. When many teachers began to call in absences for Thursday, some districts had to close. Those two districts educate 35,000 students. They demanded a 20 percent raise for all teaching and certified staff, competitive wages for other staff and more school funding.

Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said he believes the pay increase is the biggest issue for teachers.

"We are not slowing down, but there is a certain amount of paperwork and staff work that is going on behind the scenes", Mesnard said before calling the recess. They seem mostly focused on teacher pay.

If the budget passes, teachers say they will return to class tomorrow.