Red for Ed: Arizona teachers set to walk Thursday

Arizona teachers are set for a statewide walkout on Thursday if their demands for a 20% pay increase and increased school funding are not met. Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, proposed a 20% pay increase that would boost teacher pay by 10% for the upcoming school year, then 5% for 2019 and another 5% for 2020, but teacher’s groups say Ducey’s isn’t enough.

Leaders of Arizona Educators United and Arizona Education Association said Ducey’s plan was rejected because it falls short of their demands. In addition to a substantial pay increase, leaders of Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United also want a system of future raises, and no new tax cuts until state funding per student reaches the national average. They also want overall school funding restored to 2008 levels and competitive pay for all education professionals including counselors, aides and custodians.

Last week, Governor Ducey vetoed legislation drafted by House Republicans. making it clear that he wanted legislation that would meet the demands of Arizona teachers.

“Please send me a budget that gives teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020 and restores additional assistance,” Ducey wrote in his veto message.

Ducey’s position on teacher pay shifted dramatically in recent weeks after protests and the threat of a walk out. Previously Ducey had held his ground against pay raises, insisting that there was no money available in the budget. Legislative budget analysts say that Ducey’s proposal would create a budget deficit of $260 million by 2020.

As of today, the governor and the legislature seem to be at odds. Ducey has sent a message that the only plan he’s willing to adopt is his own, while lawmakers are struggling to come up with a plan to accommodate teacher’s demands and balance the budget. The one thing they don’t have is time.

Meanwhile school districts around the state are beginning announce closures for teacher walkouts. Locally, it’s unclear how the walkout will affect schools in the area. Safford school district has confirmed a meeting today to determine how the walkout will affect the district. It’s unclear how the walkout will affect local schools. Gila Valley Central will provide updates as they come available.