"We're Winning:" Teacher Walkouts Will Extend Into Wednesday

Teachers will continue to rally at the Capitol during an extended school walkout. On stage is Marisol Garcia, the vice president of the Arizona Education Association, during Friday's rally.
Teachers will continue to rally at the Capitol during an extended school walkout. On stage is Marisol Garcia, the vice president of the Arizona Education Association, during Friday's rally. Joseph Flaherty
After another enormous rally at the Capitol on Monday, leaders of Arizona Educators United announced that teacher walkouts will continue until at least Wednesday.

Four days of closures have led several schools to say that they will remain closed indefinitely until the walkout ends.

The grassroots #RedForEd organization Arizona Educators United posted the news on the group's Facebook page after a strategy session among the #RedForEd leadership. AEU leader Kelley Fisher, a kindergarten teacher at Las Brisas Elementary in the Deer Valley Unified School District, told teachers to reach out to their communities during ad hoc actions to explain why teachers are still on strike.

"We need to keep them informed so we can keep their support," Fisher said in a video posted to the AEU Facebook group. "And we want to make sure that they understand our side, not just what’s happening through the media.”

They should return to the Capitol around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Fisher added, where the Legislature is in the midst of budget negotiations.

“We are going to be there to make sure that we get the best budget we can for our students," Fisher told AEU group members.

Teachers in red swarmed the Capitol for the third day of protests on Monday to hear from speakers like AEU leader Noah Karvelis and Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas. On Tuesday, there will be no formal schedule of speakers, according to Fisher.

Many of the Phoenix-area school districts that announced closures for Thursday, Friday, and Monday due to the walkouts extended their closures until Tuesday or beyond now that the teacher walkout shows no signs of slowing.

The Phoenix and Washington Elementary School Districts remained closed on Tuesday, along with the Phoenix, Tempe, and Glendale Union High School Districts. The Scottsdale Unified School District will remain closed on Wednesday, and Mesa Public Schools, the state's largest school district, will stay closed until the walkout ends.

The Chandler Unified School District — which said that it would try to reopen on Monday, only to reverse the decision one day later — remained closed on Tuesday.

The Cartwright School District will remain closed until Friday, May 4. The Roosevelt and Creighton Elementary School Districts will remain closed until further notice, according to their district websites.

The end of the legislative session is approaching, and teachers packed the House gallery as their peers rallied outside. Governor Doug Ducey has proposed a net 20 percent raise for teachers by 2020. Although on Friday the governor and the leaders of the House and Senate announced that they have a deal on the raises, nothing is final. They have yet to pass a budget for next year that includes a pay increase.

AEU leaders have rejected Ducey's so-called 20x2020 plan because the plan lacks a long-term revenue source and instead relies on tenuous predictions of economic growth to fund the raises.

"We got a press release. We got a tweet. We don't have a deal, so keep the energy up," Karvelis told teachers in a Facebook video on Monday afternoon. He has said that teachers will not consider Ducey's 20 percent raise a victory if it passes.

Karvelis described the situation at the Capitol as unfolding minute by minute and day by day: "Things are moving quickly, and it's because we're winning."
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty