Superintendent reacts to planned teacher walkout

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But as state policy makers weigh their options in response to the "Red for Ed" movement that is organizing the teacher protests, some conservatives and their allies have pointed to bloated administration costs as a reason teachers in Arizona have among the worst pay in the nation.

Arizona teachers also voted late Thursday to go on strike and plan to walk off the job April 26.

That drew a sharp retort from gubernatorial spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, calling those conclusions "based on one faulty analysis that underestimates the amount of revenue growth in the state".

As a result of several years of funding shortages, our teachers and staff may conduct a walkout prior to the end of the school year.

The announcement came after three days of teachers voting in schools across the state.

Karvelis said the #RedForEd movement has given a voice to teachers who have suffered the effects of education funding cuts for years. The state ranks 43rd in education, according to a 2017 Education Week report. Last week, Governor Ducey announced a plan to raise teachers' pay gradually so that they'll see a 20% raise by 2020, but support staff were left out of the raises.

"I'm not thinking this is going to be a massive issue in rural Arizona", Carter said. "Any consequences - a walkout or a strike - it's their fault".

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Before Thursday's vote, Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Michael Cowen sent an email to teachers saying Arizona's largest school district's 64,000 students would be shut out of school until teachers return to their classrooms.

"These hardworking men and women should not be paying the price of the State's cost-cutting measures", the Arizona Democrat said.

Whether the strike ends in relative success, as happened in West Virginia and Oklahoma, or simply produces the kind of simmering standoff between teachers and pols we've seen in Kentucky, #RedforEd is nearly certain to spill over into the midterm election season.

West Virginia Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin III both expressed support for the West Virginia teacher strikes. "I am committed to getting teachers this raise and am working to get this passed at the legislature", he posted.

"I disagreed with the tactics of being out as long", Capito, a Republican, told West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

A 20 percent raise for all educators in schools was one demand from AEU. Oklahoma's teachers were less successful.

Republican legislators did not immediately react to the vetoes, and they have not commented on the decision to walk out.

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GOP Sen. James Lankford said education funding in the state should expand but disagreed with some of the proposed budget solutions.

"It's an absolute shame that it has come to this, but now that we are all in this situation, I hope that the teachers and Capitol leadership can rebuild trust and come together to resolve this matter as quickly as possible for the sake of our students". "We should be able to fill that budget gap without having to do that as well".

The last thing they want is for education funding to be further diminished, or for teachers and their advocates to be deemed greedy for seeking more.

The strike in Kentucky is about the state's broken pension plan, not just wage deficits.

Simek stressed that she is not criticizing Ducey for coming up with a plan.

Teachers protested a bill Gov. Matt Bevin planned to sign that would make significant rollbacks to teacher retirement plans. But AEU leaders are very critical of the governor's "plan".

Meanwhile, legislative analysts said late a year ago that a new round of corporate tax cuts would leave the state $100 million short in 2018, unless spending was cut.

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Area teachers, too, have mixed reactions. "We're anxious that we can promise teachers a raise and promise schools they can buy new books and put air-conditioning on buses, and then next year if the economy slows down ... then that money is going to disappear".

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