Educators and other school employees in Arizona have voted overwhelmingly to stage a statewide job walkout next week to persuade lawmakers to provide more funding for schools.
Whether the strike ends in relative success, as happened in West Virginia and Oklahoma, or simply produces the kind of simmering standoff between teachers and pols we've seen in Kentucky, #RedforEd is nearly certain to spill over into the midterm election season.
The walk-out announcement comes after weeks of walk-ins-as teachers across the state mobilized behind the #RedforEd movement-and follows a promise by the state's Republican governor to raise educator pay 20 percent by 2020. "No one has more respect for the jobs that teachers do, which is why I proposed a viable, meaningful increase in their salaries a year ago, as well as sustainable funding specifically for them and school facilities".
"The worst possible thing we could do is not take action right now, " he said.
Arizona Teachers vote to walkout of schools.
Teachers and Democrats have said the revenue projections may be overly optimistic and believe the raises should be paid for from other revenue resources, like eliminating corporate tax breaks.
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"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".
Thomas understands tension in what some teachers say was not enough transparency in the voting process.
"Our teachers have earned this raise", the governor wrote in the letters.
As a result of several years of funding shortages, our teachers and staff may conduct a walkout prior to the end of the school year. The plan would cost about $650 million when fully implemented.
"To ask a group of volunteers to come up with a plan to support education funding is a little unrealistic, " she said. But Thomas and others, including the Arizona PTA, are concerned where the money would come from to fund the proposal. Arizona teachers earn a median annual wage that is almost the lowest in the nation. How a strike could play out in more than 200 public school districts will vary but could leave hourly workers like custodians without their paychecks.
Parents and communities already have been making plans for child care and food boxes for kids who rely on free breakfast and lunch at school.
He said he has stayed in conversation with local #RedForEd organizers and expects to continue with those talks.
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Using a GoFundMe account, students raised more than $1,200 to pay for the event. In Kansas City, police estimated the crowd reached 5,000 to 6,000 at its peak.
The association said it has informed its 20,000 members of the risks of a walkout because of a 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion.
The logistics of a walkout will vary by district.
The Marana Unified School District put out a statement yesterday, signed by MUSD Superintendent Doug Wilson, that said the district hopes such extreme measures as a strike will not be needed.
"I encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of the impact of a walkout on our students, parents, staff and the community", he said, adding that the public has shown support over the years for Mesa schools.
"Some kids will be coming to school and really need a place to be", she said.
Organizers were not ready to say how long the walkout might last, should no solution be found. However, he said district officials expect teachers to return to their classrooms by Friday.
"Because if we don't, then when is the time going to be?"
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