2018 Arizona teachers' strike
|2018 Arizona teachers' walkout|
|Part of the 2018–19 education workers' strikes in the United States|
|Date||April 26, 2018|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
The 2018 Arizona teachers' strike was held from April 26–May 3, 2018 by 20,000 teachers to protest low pay and cuts to school funding. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had approved a proposal giving a 20 percent raise to teachers by 2020, with a 9 percent raise in 2019; teachers rejected this proposal as it did not provide increased funding for schools themselves or raises for support staff. It has coincided with a similar strike in neighboring Colorado.
The walkout occurred after similar actions in West Virginia and Oklahoma, and is the third in the ongoing wave of teachers' strikes in the United States. It is the first such action by teachers in Arizona.
Teachers began holding "walk-ins" the week of April 9th, during which they protested in favor of increased funding while on school campuses, and discussed the reasons for the protests with parents and interested parties. Teachers also wore red to school to indicate solidarity. These protests were organized by Arizona Educators United, and were planned in part on social media.
Arizona lawmakers originally offered teachers a 1 percent raise in 2018, with an additional 1 percent raise in 2019. Doug Ducey, the Arizona governor, further indicated that demands for a 20 percent raise were unlikely to be satisfied, and that there would be no increase in taxes to increase education spending.
Contradicting his earlier statements, Ducey announced on April 13th that there would be a 20 percent raise for teachers in the form of a 10 percent raise in 2019 and a 10 percent raise in 2020, and that $1 billion in funding cut over the past decade would be restored. When announced, Ducey did not discuss how the increases would be funded. The announcement was met with skepticism from labor organizers.
State of education funding in Arizona
Before the walkout, teachers' salaries in 2018 were between $8000 and $9000 lower than teachers' salaries in 1990, when adjusted for inflation. Wages for teachers in Arizona are some of the lowest in the United States, averaging $48,372 per year. In 2017, Arizona ranked last of all fifty states for average elementary school pay, and second to last for teacher pay at the secondary level. Since the Great Recession, funding in the state has been cut by 14 percent. Cuts have been further exacerbated by the privatization trend in the state, which has led to job insecurity.
Teachers voted on April 19 to begin a walkout on April 26. Of the 57,000 individuals who voted, 78 percent were in favor of a walkout. The decision to walk out was in part precipitated by an unstable plan to fund governor Ducey's proposal from earlier in April, which would have created a $265 million deficit after its rollout. During the walkout, teachers organized various events, both to discuss their motivations with the public and to guarantee students reliant on subsidized meals still received food.
On May 1st, teachers agreed to end the walkout if Arizona lawmakers passed a new budget with both raises and increased spending on schools. The strike officially ended after the budget was passed on May 3rd.
AEU demands include a 20 percent raise for all teachers and staff during the 2018-2019 school year, the return of funding to pre-Recession levels, and a decrease in class size to a student to teacher ratio of 23:1.
Responses from state officials
Democratic legislators in the Arizona House endorsed the planned walkout. Rebecca Rios referred to it as "brave and righteous". Governor Ducey, on Twitter, condemned the results of the vote, expressing fears that students would be "...the ones who lose out..." if the walkout occurred.
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- Snow, Anita; Tang, Terry (May 3, 2018). "Arizona teachers end walkout after governor signs off on 20 percent raise". Chicago Tribune. tronc. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
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- Kuhn, Casey (11 April 2018). "Arizona Teachers 'Walk-In' To Protest Low Pay And Low Funding". NPR. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
- Kilgore, Ed (20 April 2018). "The Spring of Discontent for Red-State Teachers Continues". New York Magazine. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
- Fernández Campbell, Alexia (13 April 2018). "Arizona's governor promises to give teachers a pay raise in effort to avert a strike". Vox. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
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- Blanc, Eric (30 April 2018). "Arizona Versus the Privatizers". Jacobin. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
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- "We demand..." AEU. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
- "The Latest: Arizona House Democrats support walkout vote". WTOP. 20 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.