Arizona educators vote in favor of statewide walk outs

The Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United announced Thursday, April 19 that Arizona educators voted to walk out of Arizona’s schools — citing 10 years of underfunded schools resulting in overcrowded classrooms, crumbling infrastructure and low wages for educators.

A view from Red for Ed walk on Wednesday, April 11, at Laguna Elementary School in Scottsdale. (Photo courtesy of Laguna Elementary)

Organizers plan for walk outs to begin Thursday, April 26, according to a press release from Scottsdale Unified School District.

AEA Vice President and Isaac Middle School teacher Marisol Garcia said the vote was not an easy one for educators to decide.

“As I turned in my ballot (Thursday), I thought about my son, my colleagues and my students,” Ms. Garcia said in a prepared statement. “By voting today, I am standing up for my son and all students in Arizona and the public schools they deserve.”

Scottsdale Unified School District released a statement as well as texted parents regarding the planned walk out.

“SUSD continues to discuss action plans and will be providing regular communication,” the district said in a prepared statement. “Please monitor your phone and email for district messages and verify that your contact information is up to date.”

“After years of starving our schools, some classes are stuffed with kids, while others sit empty because there isn’t a teacher to teach,” AEU organizer and Littleton elementary music teacher Noah Karvelis said in a prepared statement.

“The #RedforEd movement has provided educators the opportunity to voice what action they want to take in an historic statewide vote.”

AEA President and Mesa Skyline High School government teacher Joe Thomas cited not having money to replace what he calls outdated books from the 1990s.

“That’s just one of the reasons we’re fighting to make Arizona’s kids, schools and educators a higher priority in the governor’s office,” Mr. Thomas said in a prepared statement.

The AEA claimed in a press release students were central in all it does and the organization believes “every student deserves a chance at a quality education.”

The organization also said along with an education, students should have access to services like nutrition, health and after-school programs, according to a release.

The decision to walk out also comes on the heels of weeks of #RedforEd walk-ins and a budget proposal from Gov. Doug Ducey that planned for a 20 percent raise for teachers by 2020.

The AEA called the proposal “disingenuous” because it “excluded support professionals like counselors, bus drivers and cafeteria workers and was not supported by actual funding.”

“Education isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. That’s why we’re walking out,” Mr. Karvelis said in a prepared statement.

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