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Arizona Legislators Have Promised a Pay Raise Deal. But Teachers Are Still Striking

Arizona-Teacher-Protest-Blog.jpgAs Arizona lawmakers prepare to unveil a budget deal that includes a teacher pay raise, thousands of teachers are prepared to stay out of the classroom for a fourth day.

This is Arizona's first statewide strike—a historic moment that was spurred on by the statewide walkouts in West Virginia and Oklahoma, as well as smaller-scale protests in Colorado  and Kentucky. Arizona teachers are asking for $1 billion in school funding, which would include a 20 percent teacher pay raise. 

The legislature's budget plan, negotiated with Gov. Doug Ducey, gives teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020. It would also include $100 million in school funding, as a start to restoring some of the $400 million in education cuts that have been made since the Great Recession, according to news reports. The plan would not raise taxes, Ducey said.

Lawmakers have said the details of the plan would be released Monday. Ducey said in a statement that the measure would pass the legislature "shortly thereafter." 

Still, teachers are skeptical of the plan, and are not yet willing to call off the strike. 

"The devil is in the details," said Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, and Noah Karvelis, a main organizer of the teacher-led Facebook group, Arizona Educators United. "We know that we have been down this road before. [Ducey] makes promises that he can't keep. We just can't trust him. ... Educators cannot wait any longer for the governor to fix this."

At least one major school district, Tucson Unified, has said it will remained closed on Tuesday and that it based its decision on the Arizona Educators United group's call for a continued walkout. Some smaller districts in the state have already reopened. Others have announced that they would reopen Monday or Tuesday, but later changed plans because so many teachers reported absences. 

Striking is illegal in Arizona, and teachers have already been threatened with legal consequences. Earlier this year, West Virginia and Oklahoma teachers both stayed out of the classroom for nine school days. 

See also: 

Image: Teachers rally outside the Capitol on April 30 in Phoenix on their third day of walk outs. —Matt York/AP

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