Gov. Doug Ducey announces on April 12, 2018, a new education-funding proposal that would give Arizona’s teachers 9 percent pay raises this year.
Carly Henry | azcentral.com
Teachers across the state will vote this week on whether to walk out for more education funding, according to Arizona Educators United, the grassroots group coordinating the #RedForEd movement.
Organizers late Sunday said educators would vote in person Tuesday through Thursday to determine whether they would follow the lead of teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
The group did not specify in their Sunday announcement when, exactly, they would set a date for a walkout if educators voted in favor of one.
Organizers told the 45,000 members of the group’s private Facebook page that they also planned to have another statewide “walk-in” Wednesday, similar to the demonstrations held last week.
Teachers: Clock is ticking
Educators had mixed feelings about the group’s announcement, which came on top of several other efforts to garner public support for a walkout in recent weeks.
Some supported the vote, saying it was necessary to get a firm sense of where educators stand after Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday announced a proposal to increase teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020.
Ducey outlined only broad brushstrokes of his proposal. He did not detail where the funding for the raises would come from, though he promised there would be no “shell games” and that he was committed to seeing the plan through.
State lawmakers are expected to debate the governor’s proposal this week as part of legislative budget negotiations.
Others already in support of a walkout appeared frustrated Sunday night, noting that the clock was ticking. School is out in less than six weeks in many districts, they said, and the Legislature is quickly nearing the end of its session.
Noah Karvelis and Dylan Wegela, both teachers and leaders in Arizona Educators United, list their demands during a #RedForEd rally at the Arizona state Capitol. David Wallace/azcentral.com
Organizers for Arizona Educators United remained skeptical of Ducey’s proposal Sunday night.
They said it does not address all five of their demands, which include restoring $1 billion in cuts to education funding and giving competitive pay to aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other support staff they say play a pivotal role in educating students.
The organizers questioned how Ducey would ensure additional education funding remains sustainable in future years and described his plan as “empty promises.”
“To be frank, this proposal doesn’t do enough for our kids and colleagues,” organizer Noah Karvelis said Sunday.
“We’ve been talking for weeks now about the crisis we’re in in Arizona,” he said. “This proposal does not meet those demands that we put forth to fix these issues.”
Other education advocates have said they would support the governor’s proposal if he could deliver and hoped it would be enough to prevent teachers from walking out.
For weeks, as the teacher-led #RedForEd movement swept the state with rallies and peaceful demonstrations, the governor appeared to stick with an earlier plan to provide teachers with the second half of a promised 2 percent raise in his budget.
Ducey and state lawmakers said they were offering everything they could to address teacher pay and education funding.
As recently as Tuesday, the governor said he would not meet with organizers of Arizona Educators United. He called their protests a “political circus” and alleged teachers were being egged on to protest as part of a “political movement” coordinated by “political operatives.”
The next day, students and educators at more than 1,100 schools participated in walk-ins in support of the teacher effort. #RedForEd organizers estimate more than 100,000 people participated.
Less than 24 hours later, Ducey announced the new proposal.
Thousands of #RedForEd Arizona teachers rally for more education funding at the state Capitol in Phoenix on March 28, 2018. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
Read or Share this story: https://azc.cc/2H2nmnb