Arizona House Democrats support walkout vote


The state's teachers have been protesting over low pay and school funding for weeks and are now taking a strike vote.

Arizona Educators United organizers and Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas are expected to announce the results of that vote on Thursday night some time after 8 p.m. outside Arizona Education Association headquarters at at 345 E. Palm Lane in Phoenix, according to a press release from the Arizona Education Association.

Gov. Ducey (R) tweeted minutes after AEA and AEU's announcement on Thursday and said that "No one wants to see teachers strike" and that "kids are the ones who lose out".

"None of us went to school, none of us spent money on tuition, on books, none of us spend our time and our energy to not care", she said.

The DOE statement said Douglas would present an update regarding a potential walkout at Monday's State Board of Education meeting.

Thomas also made the distinction between a vote explicitly calling for a walkout, and a vote that empowers the AEU leadership to make the decision on behalf of Arizona teachers.

"This is undeniably, clearly, a mandate for action", Thomas said. Give us the schools we want to work in. "We've sent two letters to the governor [seeking a meeting] and we've heard absolutely nothing".

"In light of the recent mass shootings across the nation, not only the governor and the Legislature wanted to take action, but Arizonans from every part of the state asked and in many cases demanded that we take necessary steps to further protect our schools and our communities", Smith said.

Karvelis wouldn't say how long the walkouts could last.

Competitive pay for all education support staff.

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Jenness organized one of the first local Red for Ed rallies, which resulted in more than 1,000 educators and allies marching out of their downtown schools earlier this month. Another demand was no new tax cuts, and a restoration of K-12 education funding that had been cut during the Great Recession. Arizona spends $924 less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars today than it did in 2008, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. "We're anxious that we can promise teachers a raise and promise schools they can buy new books and put air-conditioning on buses, and then next year if the economy slows down ... then that money is going to disappear".

Ducey has the support of several of the older traditional education groups.

"Right now we're at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to teacher funding". And Simek said she believes some of what the governor plans to slice could end up hurting the very children her organization is working to protect.

"I know they're toiling with that", Simek said. She urged the legislature to find a long-term, sustainable source for the increased education funding.

This vote is a rejection of Ducey's lackluster effort to listen to the raging #RedForEd movement.

Noah Karvelis with Educators United said the Gov. Doug Ducey's plan for a 20 percent raise by 2020 isn't enough.

A walkout could shut down schools across the state.

"I'm all about bringing the priority of education to the forefront ... but walking out is a whole different discussion", he said. Meanwhile, teacher workload has grown as support staffs have shrunk and student-teacher ratios have climbed.

Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said he was disappointed that teachers did not give lawmakers a chance to continue negotiating before voting to strike.

Educators will continue to build community support and capacity to support students for when the strike hits. As additional details unfold, superintendents and principals will provide information that is more detailed to specific school district parents and families. "We are now working on plans to keep our schools open in the event of work stoppage".