Arizona teachers get 20 percent raise, end walkout

Arizona governor signs bill giving teachers 20 percent raise

Since the walkout began April 26, thousands of Arizona teachers, school staff and supporters have descended on the state Capitol daily, demanding higher wages and more education funding.

They wanted more than $1 billion in education cuts fully restored, plus smaller class sizes and raises for support staff.

Governor Doug Ducey signed the education and budget bills this morning, calling them a win for public education.

The state is giving teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020 and investing an additional $138 million in schools, an outcome that only partially meets educators' demands. It will be updated. "We should take pride in what we have accomplished, and in the movement that we have created together".

Rebecca Wilson, a teacher in Peoria with 35 fifth graders in her class, hopes more is done in the months ahead to raise funds for Arizona schools.

"I think they're pretty frustrated", Joe Thomas, president of the state's largest teacher's union, said of his members' reaction to the budget in an interview with Phoenix's 12 News Thursday.

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The budget does increase state spending on education by $200 million more than Ducey initially offered, but that still leaves overall funding far below pre-recession levels. The Arizona walkout was being planned for weeks, after West Virginia teachers successfully negotiated raises by closing schools for nine days.

The Arizona Senate has passed a $10.4 billion state budget plan that provides more than $300 million in raises for numerous state's striking teachers after working all night.

In the end, funding for teacher pay raises will be $273 million.

"But you do not get to hurt the people of this state because I represent them as well, " Townsend said.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that approval of the pay hike came after several hours of debate in which the Republican majority in the legislature rejected several attempts by Democrats to add more money for public education to the state budget.

"Twenty percent in two years is a monumental pay increase", he said.

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What is included in Arizona education bill?

Among the teachers who had packed the House and Senate galleries to watch Thursday's budget negotiations was Kathleen Hansen War, who said that one representative could be seen playing Solitaire and another staring at his cell phone, only glancing up "when his name was called [so he could] vote the Republican agenda".

Teachers have been on strike for better pay and school funding since last Thursday, and leaders of AEU and the AEA pledged that educators would return to classrooms if lawmakers gave them a budget.

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.

"Republicans and Gov. Ducey wrote a check this morning that we very likely can't cover beyond one year", said Rep.

"It's unbelievable that we sit here and we try to call ourselves a hero after we've set the house on fire", said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix.

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She said "many of the goals" in her State of Education address were "achieved", but added there was still "much work" that needs to be done.

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