Tens of thousands of Arizona educators joined the wave of teacher strikes last week to demand more funding for public schools. Like Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Kentucky, the state has massively underfunded education over the last decade while passing tax policy to benefit corporations.
This is the first statewide teacher strike in Arizona history, and the momentum from the growing movement has legislators on the defense. Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to raise teacher salaries by 20 percent in an effort to appease the educators. But some of the striking teachers have expressed concern about the revenue sources for the pay increase given the hazy details over how they would be funded.
Instead, teachers are holding strong for a bold set of demands. In addition to the raises for teachers and school staff, they’re asking for a return to education funding levels in 2008. No new tax cuts, they also say, until the state’s per-pupil education funding is on par with the national average.
As I mention in this video, the Arizona teachers are showing that this strike movement is about more than salary increases. Teachers are demanding a say in how their state budgets are allocated. And their strikes aren’t just for their own benefit, but for their students and communities.