Day 3 of teacher walkout; many schools remain closed

Blanche Robertson
May 5, 2018

Teachers in the #RedforEd movement said they'll return to class on Thursday after the state Legislature is expected to pass a budget on Wednesday.

Timothy Sandefur, an attorney for the organization that litigates over conservative causes, contends the walkout by teachers that has affected close to 850,000 youngsters statewide is an illegal strike.

"We are not slowing down, but there is a certain amount of paperwork and staff work that is going on behind the scenes", Mesnard said before calling the recess. "To ask us to go back to the classroom, when most people haven't even seen the bill... we've been talking to lawmakers that haven't seen bill yet... we're not going on blind faith".

"If lawmakers do their job and get this budget passed by Thursday, then we commit to return to our classrooms by then", said Alhambra elementary teacher Rebecca Garelli, who helped organize Arizona Educators United, the grass-roots group that pushed the Red for Ed movement.

Karvelis said the budget still leaves the #RedForEd movement far short of its original goals.

The bottom line, Sandefur said, is that not only makes school officials equally guilty of an illegal act but puts them in violation of their constitutional obligations to educate children.

Doug Ducey (R) responded to teachers by proposing to raise teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020 and dedicating $371 million in new funding over five years for education needs, such as new school buses, revamped infrastructure, and enhanced technology and curricula. Some teachers encouraged people not to engage with them.

In a statement, the district announced, "We know our community is anxious to know how we will make up the instructional time that was missed during our school closure".

Phoenix teacher Rebecca Garelli left an Arizona Educators United member is applauded after her announcement from protest organizers that teachers intend to go back to work

"I think they're starting to get a little anxious, like how much longer do we think it's going to take, and really, we don't know", said Fuentes, who is taking paid leave to participate.

"One of the deciding factors is that the Legislature has gone not as far as they're able to go, but as far as they're willing to go, " he said. During hearings occurring Tuesday even as the decision to go back was being announced, a parade of teachers told lawmakers about the effects of funding shortfalls, including the lack of funds for basic supplies and schools in disrepair. Teachers would have to gather more than 150,000 signatures by July 5 to include the issue on the ballot. They also say the plan has no funds earmarked for support staff and ignores their request to restore per-student funding to where it was a decade ago. He called that a "high-water mark" for education dollars, saying it does not represent historic funding. They also wanted yearly raises and no new tax cuts until their salaries and the state's per-student spending both reached the national average. He noted that Ducey announced his teacher pay plan on April 12, a week before the vote by Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association to strike.

The letter said the movement "created the largest increase in school funding since the recession, but it's still not enough".

But the budget proposal doesn't promise every teacher a 20 percent raise, hinging the increase on whether districts have salaries that are higher or lower than the state average of $49,000.

The protests are part of a national teacher action that began in West Virginia and spread to other Republican-controlled states, including Kentucky and Oklahoma.

The teacher raise is half a 20 percent bump that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has promised by 2020.

The governor tweeted "Arizona's economy is thriving". And a top Republican lawmaker gave teachers credit for keeping the pressure on.

1700 ordered to evacuate after Hawaii volcano erupts
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has also closed off access to about 15,688 acres, which run from the Puu Oo vent to the ocean. He said he told his mother on Friday to pack a bag, just in case. "One and done, we don't need to go through this again".

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