State Watch

Arizona teachers begin voting on whether to strike

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Teachers across Arizona began voting Tuesday on whether they should go on strike to demand more money for education.

Arizona Teachers United — the grass-roots group coordinating the teacher-led #RedForEd movement — said in a statement released Sunday that teachers would vote from Tuesday to Thursday this week about whether they should strike.

The group did not provide an exact date for teachers to walk out of schools if the strike is approved.

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The organizers said in a statement that a plan proposed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to increase teachers’ salaries by 19 percent by 2020 does not meet their goal of restoring education funding to pre-recession levels.

The group has warned teachers that there are possible risks to participating in a statewide walkout.

A 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion said that a statewide strike would be illegal and participants could lose their teaching credentials.

“We’ve been telling our members that for six weeks, and they understand it,” Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, according to KCRA in Sacramento. “And it doesn’t seem to faze them. That shows how upset they are. They’re willing to take this risk for their students.”

Noah Karvelis, one of the organization’s leaders, told Tuscon.com that the governor did not say how pay increases would be funded and instead expects more revenue to come from an improving economy.

Such uncertainty does not give educators hope that the promised money will be available, Karvelis said.

Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky began protests for higher pay and more education funding earlier this year.

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