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Arizona Teachers Strike to Protest Low Wages and Funding Cuts

Yesterday, Arizona teachers successfully ended their five day walkout after the Governor signed a plan giving educators a 19 percent pay raise.

The walkout, organized by Arizona Educators United and other advocacy groups, began April 26, with more than 50,000 teachers , staff, and supporters participating in a rally at the state capitol building on Monday to demand higher wages and better funding for education. Approximately 60 school districts in Arizona have been closed due to the lack of staff and teachers during the walkout.

While the teachers got a significant pay raise, they did not get all of their demands. The current budget plan does not increase per-student funding, provide raises for support staff, or allow for hiring additional school counselors. But teachers say they will not stop fighting for these issues.

The teacher walkout in Arizona closely follows the teacher strikes happening in several other states in the last few weeks. In West Virginia, teachers held a nine- day walkout, the longest teacher strike in the history of the state, to demand a pay increase for teachers. In West Virginia, the average teaching salary is $10,000 less than the national average. Governor Jim Justice signed a bill into law that would allow for a 5% pay increase.

Teachers in Oklahoma also led a successful walkout to protest the lack of resources and funding for public schools and the below average wages for teachers and support staff. After several days of protesting, Oklahoma teachers won a $6,000 raise in salary and support staff won $1,250. Though the walkout came to an end, organizers and teaching staff have promised to shift their energy and momentum to electing candidates who will prioritize increased funding for public schools.

According to a US Department of Education Study, more than 75% of public school teachers are women, which, according to many women’s rights activists, contributes to the fact that teachers are undervalued and underpaid across the country. In an interview with USA Today, Carrena Rouse, President of the Boone County, WV chapter of the American Federation of Teachers said “”I think it’s a countrywide problem where somewhere along the way it became OK to disrespect women.”

Media Resources: CNN 5/1/18, 3/6/18; AZ Central 4/30/18; ABC 4/30/18; Feminist Newswire 4/2/18, 2/26/18; New York Times 4/12/18; Tuscon.com 5/1/18; USA Today 4/2/18

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