Arizona Teachers Have Issued Their Demands. Now They're Ready to Walk Out

22 April, 2018, 03:56 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Ducey's plan also includes more school resource officers and school mental health spending

Arizona teachers have voted to walk off the job in an unprecedented move to demand increased school funding. 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. Madison Elementary School District, Alhambra Elementary School District and Mesa Public Schools are among the districts that have begun informing parents about the closures.

They plan to communicate with parents, employees, and stakeholders Blackboard Connect messenger, district website, and social media.

Students wouldn't be able to access buildings on campuses, and any school days missed would be made up at year's end, Superintendent Michael Cowan wrote to teachers.

I am committed to getting teachers this raise and am working to get this passed at the Legislature.

A final decision on the matter will come Wednesday.

"The plan Governor Ducey announced is $274 million in new education funds for FY 2019 dedicated exclusively to the teacher base level (so that it becomes permanent funding our districts and their teachers can count on) and $100 million for restoring district additional assistance that can be used for capital needs plus inflation", said Linda Lyon, president of the Arizona School Boards Association's Board of Directors.

Return school funding to 2008 levels, along with decreasing class sizes to 23 students-to-one teacher. "We can no longer allow the status quo in this state to go unchanged".

But many teachers rejected that plan, or said they distrusted Mr. Ducey, a first-term Republican.

The CUSD is planning for a walkout, but also keeping an eye on the upcoming days.

"We are underfunding our students", said Noah Karvelis, a leader of Arizona Educators United. Please be reassured that we will keep in close communication with our families and the community and keep you updated as things progress. The district plans to continue food services for those children at seven different sites. "We will notify you on Monday regarding locations and enrollment procedures".

"The women and men who work so hard to educate our children at our neighborhood public schools have earned a meaningful and sustainable pay raise that's based on a real revenue source, not smoke and mirrors", she said. If not, the district will treat it as a snow day.

"It is now clear the existing proposal is not sustainable or comprehensive as a means of increasing educator pay and reinvesting in Arizona's classrooms and schools", said Save Our Schools Arizona spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker. But if they don't, they will be forced to close, a measure that would be district wide rather than school by school. Every student deserves a chance at a quality education, and access to services like nutrition, health, and after school programs.

Additionally, school events such as graduation would still be held as scheduled, while field trips would be on a case-by-case basis.

He also acknowledged it would take a two-thirds vote of lawmakers either to hike taxes or roll back prior tax cuts. Seventy-eight percent of them voted yes.

But legislative budget staffers found what they said are flaws in the governor's number crunching, coming up with their own estimate that the price tag for Ducey's school funding plans would leave the state $265 million in the red by 2020. Superintendent Mark Yslas does not expect any of the walk-ins to disrupt instruction.

"It does not specifically address increases for support staff, but with the state covering a 10 percent raise for certified classroom teachers, many districts should have additional resources to award raises to certified specialists and support staff at local discretion", Lyon said.

Ducey tried to forestall a strike last week by proposing to meet one of the protesters' chief complaints via a 20 percent teacher pay raise implemented in phases between now and 2020. It would also pledge $371 million in funding for schools to use on improvement projects.

Rebecca Garelli, a seventh-grade maths and science teacher in Phoenix, said of Ducey's proposal: "It isn't an actual plan, but rather a hastily thrown together one-pager".

Teacher Kassandra Dominguez, organizer of the #RedForEd rally at the Arizona Capitol, speaks to several hundred teachers protesting low pay on March 21, 2018.

But a walkout would turn up the pressure on Ducey and lawmakers to come up with a plan that appeases all parties.


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