Arizona Teachers Vote to Walk Out

For 15 years, In&Out Magazine has been the definitive source of “Everything that’s going on” in and out of the community. We thank you, our readers, as well as the businesses that support the magazine through advertising, for that opportunity. But with little going on, and many businesses suspending or canceling their ads during the Covid-19 crisis, we are suspending publication of the magazine and web sites for the month of May. 

UPDATE: Friday evening, Deer Valley Unified School District announced it will close all schools on April 26 in the event of a walkout. 

Day Care Options: If you know of an organization in North Phoenix, including Anthem, that is providing free or low-cost day care services April 26 to significant numbers of those in need, please fill out this form so we can add it to the list.

UPDATED 1:05 p.m. Friday, April 20 — Public school employees across Arizona voted in favor of a walkout over pay for teachers and support staff and funding for education in general. With more than 57,000 votes, 78 percent said yes to a walkout, organizers announced Thursday night.

Walk-ins will continue through Wednesday, April 25. “On Thursday we will begin a walkout,” said Noah Karvelis, a teacher and an organizer with Arizona Educators United, a group that has led the #RedforEd movement. “We can no longer allow the status quo to go unchanged.”

Deer Valley Unified School District administrators are working to determine if they’ll have enough staff to keep schools open should there be a strike, but superintendent Curtis Finch advised parents Friday afternoon to make daycare plans as needed.

What’s Next

“Arizona educators have delivered a strong message tonight,” said Joe Thomas,  Arizona Education Association President. “This is undeniably and clearly a mandate for action.” [#RedForEd FAQ: Facts, Views & How We Got Here]

It is not clear if all educators at all schools will participate, or what consequences may be faced by those who strike. But Thomas opened a door to avoiding the walkout. 

“We want to see movement on the demands,” Thomas said. “We’ve sent two letters to the governor [seeking a meeting] and we’ve heard absolutely nothing.” He hopes the legislature will meet the group’s demands by Thursday.

Organizers were not ready to say how long the walkout might last, should no solution be found.

Thomas and others leading the fight for change dismissed a proposal last week by Gov. Doug Ducey to raise teacher pay 20 percent by 2020. The proposal leaves out non-teaching educators and other support staff, critics say. And it does not address years of chronic underfunding that have left some school buildings crumbling, equipment broken and textbooks outdated, Karvelis said.

Arizona has cut public school funding by $4.56 billion dollars since 2009, according to the Arizona School Boards Association. Funding per student, adjusted for inflation, fell from $8,580 in 2008 to $7,229 in 2017—a 15.7 percent drop.

“We are truly in a state of crisis right now,” Karvelis said.

Funding Concerns

Ducey’s proposal has the support of several business groups. But Thomas and others, including the Arizona PTA, are concerned where the money would come from to fund the proposal.

The Arizona PTA said when it first looked at the governor’s proposal, it was in line with PTA priorities. But on Wednesday, Beth Simek, the group’s president, said that after closer examination of how the plan would be funded, “we can no longer support the governor’s proposal.” She urged the legislature to find a long-term, sustainable source for the increased education funding.

The legislature was expected to begin debating the governor’s proposal this week, and would have to vote on any plan.

“No one wants to see teachers strike,” Ducey said in a tweet Thursday night. “If schools shut down, our kids are the ones who lose out.”

Behind the Walkout

Teachers supporting the walkout say it’s not just about their paychecks, but about the Arizona’s general underfunding of education — the state is ranked near the bottom in the nation. Meanwhile, teacher workload has grown as support staffs have shrunk and student-teacher ratios have climbed. As a result, 42 percent of Arizona teachers hired in 2013 were no longer teaching in the state by 2016, according to a study by the Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

On the eve of the vote, Selena Mattern, a teacher who is leading the #RedForEd movement at Boulder Creek High School, said: “We really don’t want to walk out. But if that is what we’re headed towards to get funding for our students and back to where we were in 2008, many of us are getting prepared.”

“If a strike is planned, DVUSD will make every effort to avoid closing schools,” said superintendent Curtis Finch in a letter to parents April 13. “We are currently working on plans to keep our schools open in the event of work stoppage. However, if we have too few staff members to safely hold school, we may be forced to closed schools. You may want to consider an alternative daycare plan in the event that schools are forced to close.”

If schools were closed due to any possible strike, the school year would be extended to make up the days, DVUSD said in an FAQ about the situation.


Help Save Our Community
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country and even more so this community. Supporting local businesses during this crisis can help keep our community economically viable. Please strongly consider supporting the businesses below, In&Out Magazine's display advertisers, as well as those in the Classifieds section of the magazine (see the full April 9 issue in PDF form). Many of these businesses have been part of the fabric of this community for two decades, not just serving our professional, service and retail needs but stepping up to support local charities, sports teams and so much more. Tip: If you know you’ll need to schedule a service, consider contacting a local business you trust and paying the standard fee for the deferred service. The links below go to their web sites.

Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates • 602-242-4592
Anthem Senior Living • 602-909-9550
Appliance Pros • 502-501-5501
Business Network of Anthem • 623-455-9630
Carroll Law Firm • 623-551-9366
Century 21 Real Estate - Jeff Huff • 623-223-1221
Creative Home Enhancements • 623-551-5409
Daisy Dream Homes Real Estate • 623-879-3277
Daisy Mountain Dentistry • 623-551-5250
Desert Foothills Air Conditioning • 480-595-0938
Edward Jones • 623-551-0523
Element Dental Centers • 623-551-5555
Hand & Stone Massage • 623-551-6602
Kendallwood Design • 602-252-3844
Kodiak Roofing • 602-501-7717
Luv My PC • 480-703-6609
Merrill Gardens • 623-201-4881
North Valley Water Solutions • 623-551-0515
Preferred Business of Anthem • 623-551-0523 
Prickett Realty • 623-551-8111
ProSkill Services • 623-551-7473
RE/MAX Professionals - Mike Higgins • 623-640-7502
Rise Above Remodeling • 623-551-2013
Soft Water Plus • 623-551-7383
SonoranScapes Landscaping • 602-842-9948
State Farm Insurance - Justin Simons • 623-551-3700
Storage at Anthem • 623-226-8634
Sunset Cabinets • 623-687-6579
Thompson & McGinnis Attorneys at Law • 602-952-2666
Titan Tree Care • 623-444-8448
Titan Pest Control • 623-879-8700
Wyman Plumbing & Mechanical • 623-551-6688

For more local businesses, see In&Out Magazine Classifed Ads >>>  
Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites and Live Science. He has written four novels. .

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites and Live Science. He has written four novels. .

npneditor has 531 posts and counting.See all posts by npneditor