Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Arizona Joins Red State Revolt: Teachers' Strike Reaches Day Five

Striking Teachers Draw Criticism as More than 1000 Arizona Schools Remain Closed Arizona teachers vow they 'will be back at the Capitol' as walkout continues
Ivan Hill | 05 May, 2018, 01:36

The House was continuing to debate the budget package as sunrise approached Thursday morning but passage was assured.

"I felt like the energy on Thursday was palpable", Trujillo said of the launch of the walkout.

"We here in Arizona have banded together as educators, we've set up a grassroots movement with 1,700 schools involved, 1,700 liaisons, and if we're ever called to come back we will come back together and we'll come back stronger", middle school teacher Scott Gebbie said.

The walkout, which began April 26, prompted thousands of Arizona teachers to descend on the state capitol daily demanding higher wages and more education funding.

Spokesmen for the House and Senate said lawmakers were expected to work until late on the budget.

They're also pushing lawmakers for other considerations such as a 10 percent raise for support staff.

Some districts re-opened this week after determining they had enough staff to provide a safe learning environment.

"We need you here at the Capitol tomorrow if you can get here", said Dylan Wegela with the organization. The group had said they would call off the almost week-old strike if the budget passed.

"We don't want to be out of school another day", Karvelis and Thomas said in their letter. The Arizona action followed a teacher uprising that started in other parts of the USA and was punctuated by a march of tens of thousands of red-clad supporters.

The bill was approved Wednesday afternoon with support only from majority Republicans.

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Arizona's largest teachers' union, the Arizona Education Association, endorsed Farley's Democratic opponent, David Garcia. But Democratic Rep. Randall Friese read Noah Karvelis' remarks where he praised striking teachers for getting big wins in the budget.

"This budget does not do enough for our kids".

"Our fight is not over", said Arizona Educators United organizer Rebecca Garelli at a press conference surrounded by Red for Ed demonstrators.

The walkout launched Thursday, shutting down most public schools.

"If we pass a 20 percent pay increase and people continue to strike, I don't think that makes sense to citizens, to parents", Ducey said, according to the Arizona Republic.

A small counter-movement #PurpleForParents, has accused the teachers of being "greedy".

The teachers' strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona have been described by some as a "red-state revolt". The first teacher walkout in the state's history began on Thursday, and Monday night, organizers announced the walkout would enter a fourth day.

Organizers said the walkout was a success due to the 150,000 people that hit the streets during the four days in downtown Phoenix and increased amount of money promised for education. Protest leaders announced earlier this week they would accept a pay hike that they once dismissed as unsustainable - and Gov. Doug Ducey stood ready to sign it.

When the plan started moving through the legislature, they said they'd go back to school and figure out new ways to keep the momentum going. The Arizona Legislature is expected to vote on a budget today, which organizers say will now include additional funding for education.

"They could have passed a budget that funds our schools by now".

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