Arizona House Democrats support walkout vote

21 April, 2018, 13:51 | Author: Jason Torres
  • An Arizona Senate committee is set to hold the long-delayed first hearing on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's wide-ranging school safety proposal

"But the winners today are the teachers in the state of Arizona".

Arizona teachers are conducting another round of protests outside schools as they weigh whether to escalate their push for more school funding by walking out of their classrooms.

A walkout could shut down schools across the state.

Catalina Foothills says it will not operate its schools if there are too few staff.

Tucson Unified School District says it is unsure whether closures would be districtwide or determined school-by-school, but says safety is its No. 1 priority. "We have never lost a bond or override election".

"I understand it's a method, but its politicizing our education system and I just can't support that part of it, but I think we need to have cooler heads prevail; I think we have to recognize there were offers on the table that were trying to be worked through".

The walkout vote comes after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey offered teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020.

Furthermore they note that had budgets not been slashed during the Great Recession, education spending on the whole would be 37 percent higher than it is now, and say they will not compromise for a plan that still puts them and their students well below what they deserve. "Universities, they need funds". Some legislators, who would have to approve the plan, have called his predictions optimistic.

These are the words of Arizona's Republican Governor Doug Ducey at an April 12 press conference in the state Capitol building in Phoenix.

Save Our Schools Arizona, one of the grassroots organizations backing teachers, announced Wednesday it does not support the governor's plan. "We can no longer allow the status quo in this state to go unchanged". "But it turns out, this is not a sustainable revenue source".

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Most crucial, she said, are cuts being made elsewhere in the budget.

"This is not a sustainable and predictable way to invest in schools", she said.

On April 11, the day of the walk-ins, Dylan Wegela, a second-year seventh-grade Social Studies teacher in Phoenix, was the final speaker at a meeting of several hundred educators held that afternoon at his school district headquarters. "We have people flying in for graduation (scheduled for Friday, May 25)". At $47,403, the average Arizona teacher's salary has fallen more than 10% since 1999 when adjusted for inflation. The Arizona Capitol Times reported yesterday that AEU has reserved the Capitol grounds for Friday and much of next week.

However, the governor's plan did not quell educators who were upset that the plan didn't meet most of their demands, and are now discussing their next move, which could mean more demonstrations or a walkout.

"The (Ducey) administration has been not very consistent with their promises and their follow through". The state's largest, Mesa Public Schools in suburban Phoenix, would close and hourly staffers would not be paid, Superintendent Michael Cowan has said. But the teachers, united in a single cause and with broad popular support, plan to carry out the strike unless all their demands are met. "So who gets cut?"

"We don't always agree on every issue, " he said.

"It's their job to find the money, " he said. "We don't have textbooks for math, we don't have textbooks for science".

That is the account that schools can use for certain kinds of capital expenditures like computers, books and school buses. Josh Rosenbaum, a reading instructor at Camelback High, said he voted for the walkout because it was the only way to secure classroom funds.

However, teachers' groups balked at the proposal after Ducey claimed that he could pay for the raise through what they perceived as overly optimistic revenue projections and cuts to other programs. "They're here for the students". She worries qualified professionals won't come to a school without an adequate salary.


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