The Arizona Educators United and Arizona Education Association called for an end to the Red for Ed strike today, leaving most of their demands on the table.
As the fourth day of demonstrations at the state Capitol came to a close, AEU organizer Noah Karvelis and AEA President Joe Thomas called for teachers and public education employees to return to school starting on May 3 if Legislators adopt a budget by then.
That means the strike will have lasted five days when schools reopen. Strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma lasted for about twice as long.
“Our fight is not over,” said Arizona Educators United organizer Rebecca Garelli at a press conference surrounded by Red for Ed demonstrators. “We have options, but it is time to get back to our students and back to our classrooms.”
The announcement came after some districts had already announced their intentions to reopen on Thursday and dozens of teachers speaking before the House Appropriations Committee urged legislators to oppose the budget.
Teachers later shut down the Senate Appropriations Committee by chanting that the budget wasn’t good enough.
AEU organizer Noah Karvelis said the group’s fight was not over, and insisted public education employees would not be returning to work with nothing to show for their efforts.
He specifically claimed the extension of the 0.6-cent sales tax for education funding under Proposition 301, which Karvelis said Gov. Doug Ducey had shown no interest in supporting before the Red for Ed movement.
Ducey has signaled his support for an extension of Prop. 301 and even an openness to alterations, including an expansion of the tax as far back as March 2017.
But more significantly to AEU, Ducey proposed 20 percent raises for teachers by 2020, including 9 percent in the approaching fiscal year and five percent in each of the two years following.
That proposal now included in the budget currently being debated by lawmakers is a far cry from Ducey’s previous promises of just 1 percent, one-time raises.
But compared to the list of demands demonstrators have been championing, they are leaving with little to show for their efforts.
Both Ducey and the Legislature ignored four other demands: competitive pay for all public education employees, restoration of public education funding to 2008 levels, no new tax cuts until per pupil funding reached the national average, and ongoing teacher raises until that, too, reached the national average.
“The win isn’t there until we’ve restored the $1.1 billion that have been cut,” Karvelis said.