Arizona Teachers Are Going Back to School After a Six-Day Walkout

Photo: Getty

Building on the example of the historic statewide strike in West Virginia, Arizona teachers returned to school on Friday, ending their own six-day walkout. After working through Wednesday night while teachers kept an all-night vigil, state lawmakers passed a bill at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday that gives teachers a 20% raise by 2020 and invests an additional $138 million in schools, according to the Washington Post.

The concessions made by the Republican-led legislature still fell short of the teachers’ demands. They wanted an immediate 20% raise and for funding cuts made over the past decade to be fully restored. As the Post notes, since the recession, Arizona’s education system has been slashed year after year:

When adjusted for inflation, Arizona cut total state per-pupil funding by 37 percent between 2008 and 2015, more than any other state, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That has led to relatively low teacher salaries, crumbling school buildings and the elimination of free full-day kindergarten in some districts.

Advertisement

But the Arizona walkout once again shows the power of organized labor. Just last month, Governor Doug Ducey seemed unwilling to negotiate on the 1% pay raise for teachers that was included in his budget proposal. Now teachers will get a 9% raise this fall and a 5% boost each of the following two years.

While many teachers remain unhappy with the deal that brought the strike to a close, they are determined to keep fighting in the future. As one middle school teacher put it to the Associated Press: “We here in Arizona have banded together as educators, we’ve set up a grass-roots 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.”

Share This Story

About the author

Clio Chang

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.