The teacher walkouts in Arizona have come to an end due to the governor signing a budget bill. (https://twitter.com/dougducey/status/992028377660866562) Arizona Govenor Doug Ducey announced Thursday that the bill will give striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise, which ended their five-day walkout. The massive walkout, known online under the hashtag #RedforEd, affected more than a million public school students and were comprised of teachers heading to legislative offices and downtown Phoenix urging lawmakers to make pay raises after the pay cuts from the recession.
The bill will give teachers a 9 percent pay raise in the fall and 5 percent raises for the next two years. The bill was passed early in the morning after teachers held an overnight vigil in the courtyard of the Capitol building. A sea of red could be seen all around the building (as teachers were all wore red shirts) as teachers slept in sleeping bags and lawn chairs, waiting for a verdict. The bill will also award an additional $200 million per year on state spending for schools.
The Arizona verdict comes at the tide of walkouts in other states—Virginia, Kentucky, and Oaklahoma—all red states that are demanding more for education. In all of these states, including Arizona, schools and teachers have suffered pay cuts that teachers say are debilitating. While many teachers are happy that lawmakers have responded, others note that the budget plan falls short of demands. Teachers wanted to decrease of the student teacher ratio to 23:1, which the bill doesn’t address.
Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said Thursday that teachers should focus on getting a new bill on the ballot in November that will give teachers more leverage and pay. “The budget is a significant investment, but it falls far short,” Thomas said.