Arizona Teachers Vote to Walk Out Next Week

According to Politico, Arizona’s teachers have rejected Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to eventually boost teacher salaries by 20 percent and will walk out on April 26, union leaders say.

The announcement follows a vote by more than 57,000 school employees in the state, with 78 percent backing a walkout.

“Arizona educators have delivered a strong message tonight and overwhelmingly support walking out of their schools for their students, and their communities and their colleagues,” said Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, at a press conference late Thursday.

“This is undeniably and clearly a mandate for action,” Thomas said.

The movement has been led by the teachers union and the grassroots group Arizona Educators United.

Like teachers who went on strike earlier this year in West Virginia and Oklahoma, Arizona’s pay for teachers ranks low nationally.

The average teacher salary in Arizona is $47,403, according to the NEA.

Ducey, a Republican, has said he’ll work to increase teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020. The teachers say they are skeptical of the source of funding. They also want to restore $1 billion in education cuts made during the past decade.

“I am committed to getting teachers this raise and am working to get this passed at the Legislature. We need teachers teaching, and kids learning,” Ducey tweeted late Thursday night.

With the decision, the state’s teachers are participating in what’s been dubbed the “red state revolt” that’s also seen labor unrest among teachers in Kentucky, who walked out in parts of the state over pension and school funding issues.

By Kimberly Hefling