It's Unclear Whether Arizona Teachers Will Return To Schools Thursday

Otis Hoffman
May 4, 2018

Educators in red shirts cheered and jeered Wednesday night inside the legislative chambers where lawmakers were in the early stages of debating a Republican-backed $10.4 billion spending plan.

Although the teachers' raise is now enacted, districts in Phoenix, Tucson and Tempe, along with more than three dozen districts throughout the state, had notified parents that classes were canceled Thursday, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. A vote had been expected Wednesday, but that appears to be delayed as lawmakers consider amendments.

Thursday was also a disappointing moment for numerous demonstrating teachers.

"We here in Arizona have banded together as educators, we've set up a grassroots movement with 1,700 schools involved, 1,700 liaisons, and if we're ever called to come back we will come back together and we'll come back stronger", middle school teacher Scott Gebbie said.

"Arizona teachers have earned a raise, and this plan delivers", Republican Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement issued as he signed the bill.

They're also pushing lawmakers for other considerations such as a 10 percent raise for support staff. They reportedly gave up their strike and will return to work Thursday.

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Arizona teachers pledged to end an historic, week-long walkout as soon as Thursday if the Republican-controlled legislature approves a budget giving a 20 percent pay rise, although teachers also said the spending package did not go far enough. Rebecca Garelli, a teacher and Arizona Educators United organizer, said that the teachers "have options". "We'll make some final tweaks to this and all of the rest of the budget bills, as we hone in on a final product".

"We need to have everybody here at the Capitol until the budget is passed", AEU organizer Dylan Wegela said.

Teachers will get an average 9 percent pay boost this fall and 5 percent more in each of the next two years. The Republican Governors Association is already running ads touting Ducey as providing major new school funding "without raising taxes".

The Arizona Education Association who represents hundreds of thousands of teachers statewide said the fight doesn't end here. Randall Friese read Noah Karvelis' remarks where he praised striking teachers for getting big wins in the budget.

As teachers protested at the corner of State Routes 89A and 260 in Cottonwood on Friday, they received donations of donuts, water and other snacks.

"I'd tell the teachers the process takes time, " he said.

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The House was still debating the budget package Thursday morning but passage was assured.

Organizers of the strike had called for classes to resume Thursday if the budget passed.

The development was the latest since the organization announced on Tuesday that educators would return to school on Thursday if the Arizona Legislature could pass a proposed budget. "I have kids in schools and believe there should be more funding in our schools".

But it does provide salary increases and other additional education funding.

With six words on social media, Gov. Doug Ducey said he has solved the teacher walk-out.

When the plan started moving through the legislature, they said they'd go back to school and figure out new ways to keep the momentum going.

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Eric Peterson, a history teacher at Scottsdale Unified School District, and Baily Hershberger, a teacher at Phoenix Union High School District, rally during the fifth day of the Arizona teacher walkout at the state Capitol in Phoenix on May 2, 2018.

Other reports by Info About Network

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