Striking teachers get 20 percent pay raise
The Arizona governor signed a plan Thursday to give striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise, ending their six-day walkout after a dramatic all-night legislative session and sending more than a million public school students back to the classroom.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature awarded teachers a 9 percent raise in the fall and 5 percent in each of the next two years. Those increases are in addition to a 1 percent raise granted last year.
Teachers did not get everything they wanted, but they won substantial gains from reluctant lawmakers.
“The educators have solved the education crisis.They’ve changed the course of Arizona,” Noah Karvelis of Arizona Educators United shouted to several thousand cheering teachers. “The change happens with us!”
The Arizona walkout is part of a simmering national rebellion over low teacher pay. The movement started in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise, and spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and, most recently, Colorado.
Hours after Ducey acted, strike organizers called for an end to the walkout. Most schools stayed closed Thursday, except for a handful that managed to reopen shortly after the pay raises passed. Some districts planned to reopen today, with others likely to resume classes next week.
The Senate approved the raises just before dawn as hundreds of red-shirted teachers followed the proceedings from the lobby, many sitting on the cold stone floor.
The night before, the teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, held a candlelight vigil in a courtyard outside the original neoclassical Capitol building. They stood together with their right hands over their hearts and sang “America the Beautiful.”