After an overwhelming majority of teachers in Arizona voted on Thursday night to approve a strike over chronically low teacher salaries and harsh austerity measures that have left the state’s public schools struggling, Arizona is poised to become the latest Republican-controlled state to see educators standing up for labor and children’s rights.
The Arizona Education Association (AEA) said that 78 percent of the 57,000 teachers who voted support a walkout that would take place next week.
“After years of starving our schools, some classes are stuffed with kids, while others sit empty because there isn’t a teacher to teach,” said Noah Karvelis, an elementary school music instructor who has organized the teachers’ movement through the grassroots group Arizona Educators United (AEU). “The #RedforEd movement has provided educators the opportunity to voice what action they want to take in an historic statewide vote.”
Karvelis spoke along with AEA President Joe Thomas after the vote:
The walkout will begin on April 26 and will follow “walk-ins” that have been held across the state in recent weeks outside of school hours, in which teachers have joined with parents, students, and community members to protest funding shortages.
The educators are demanding a 20 percent raise for teachers and certified support staff, noting that the state’s average teacher salary is $46,949 according to the Arizona School Boards Association. They also want school funding to return to its pre-2008 level—the state cut its per student spending by 23.3 percent after the recession—and an end to tax cuts until school funding reaches the national average.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT