PHOENIX — The latest stop in the national movement seeking higher teacher pay and better education funding is Arizona, where tens of thousands of teachers have voted to walk off the job next week.

They want the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey to improve on the governor’s offer of 20 percent raises by 2020.

That plan, the teachers say, fails to address several of their other goals, including a restoration of state funding to 2008 levels and a pledge not to adopt any new tax cuts until per-pupil state funding reaches the national average.

Arizona is one of several Republican-led states where teachers have demanded higher pay this year. The movement started in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise, and spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and most recently Colorado.

After West Virginia teachers won their raise in early March, Arizona educators joined forces using online platforms and held increasingly frequent demonstrations over the past six weeks.

“None of us went to school, none of us spent money on tuition, on books, none of us spend our time and our energy to not care,” said Nancy Maglio, a middle school teacher in Tucson. “We went into a field where caring is mandatory.”

Ducey, who is up for re-election in November, insisted for weeks that he was doing all he could to boost school spending. Then last week he proposed the 20 percent pay raise. But teachers want funding that goes beyond salaries, and a vote Thursday authorized an April 26 walkout.

The governor has refused to meet with the grassroots group or the state teacher association that supports the efforts. Organizers say setting the walkout date allows districts to prepare for possible closures and gives lawmakers time to act.

“If we maintain the status quo, that is way worse than missing a couple days of school,” said Noah Karvelis, organizer of the grassroots group Arizona Educators United. “We can’t continue to throw away academic futures.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.