Arizona PTA pulls backing of school funding plan

Arizona teachers voted Thursday night to join their counterparts in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky protesting wage and benefit cuts.

And Gov. Doug Ducey, who last week announced a proposal to increase teacher pay by 20 percent by 2021, used his first State of the State speech in 2015 to blame school districts for spending "far too much on administrative costs" instead of directly on instruction. Arizona is one of several Republican-led states where teachers have demanded higher pay this year. "If they feel they can afford this, or that it's something they feel morally strongly about, then they should follow their heart and walk out".

"This is undeniably and clearly a mandate for action, " he said. The state also allows an annual $14 billion in tax breaks for corporations; the ten-year drop in corporate income tax has resulted in a $2.5 billion shortfall of public schools' funds. She urged the Republican governor and the Legislature to come up with a new plan for funding teacher raises and restoring school funding that is long-term, permanent and sustainable that "does not hurt others".

If a strike, or walkout, continues multiple days, with 40 percent or more of faculty and staff absent, schools would be forced to close. "That's what they were elected for", he said.

"Our teachers have earned this raise", the governor wrote in the letters. But his funding was dubious. Her district had lost a total of1.6 million on the previous five years as a result of funding cuts, based on taxpayers, and the faculty board had come out in favour of their #RedForEd motion.

According to federal data, teacher salaries in Arizona in 2017 were actually $8,000 - $9,000 less than in 1990 when adjusted for inflation. It's also #4 in crowded classrooms. However, he said district officials expect teachers to return to their classrooms by Friday.

"I'm exhausted of meeting ex-Arizona teachers who fled to other states", Thomas told the crowd in Phoenix. In show of a strength, hundreds of schools across Arizona have been holding walk-ins, where teachers wear #RedforEd and collectively all walk into school at the same time.

"We can no longer allow the status quo in this state to go unchanged, " Karvelis said.

"We can't take from one pot to give to another pot", Democratic state Rep. Reginald Bolding told

AEA didn't organize the first protests, he explained. It was formed over social media.

"The worst possible thing we could do is not take action right now", Noah Karvelis, an organizer for Arizona Educators United, told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Ducey offer to teachers, hastily put together, wasn't enough. Teachers and their allies realized quickly it didn't add up, Thomas said in the interview. One of the teachers' demands, a moratorium on future tax cuts until education spending has reached the national average, is sure to rile many Republicans.

On Thursday, teachers in Arizona voted to reject a proposed raise offered by Governor Doug Ducey and will stage a state-wide walkout beginning next week. "If schools shut down, our kids are the ones who will lose out". "We need teachers teaching, and kids learning".

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said Friday that the governor is focused on getting his so-called #20x2020 plan passed. "And if you're a classified employee"- a category of support staffers-"you're not even thought of".

His sense, though, is teachers and staff in this region are well aware of those realities. There's the cafeteria worker, the bus driver, the counselor. "So overall I think the Governor and the Legislature did a good job with this proposal". Working an early release day would also ensure that teachers still got paid.

  • Leroy Wright