Stu­dent ma­jor­ity below pro­fi­ciency

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Hun­dreds of Ari­zona schools were closed again last week, keep­ing about 840,000 stu­dents out of class as thou­sands of teach­ers, wear­ing red as part of the #Red­forEd theme, ral­lied at the state Capi­tol in Phoenix.

Strike or­ga­niz­ers said ed­u­ca­tors would go back to work if law­mak­ers pass a school fund­ing deal backed by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Repub­li­can, and leg­isla­tive lead­ers from his party.

Mr. Ducey has of­fered a 20 per­cent pay in­crease for teach­ers by 2020, as well as $100 mil­lion for new text­books, build­ing improvemen­ts and salaries for sup­port staff, which would in­crease to $371 mil­lion over five years.

The gov­er­nor is vow­ing that he will do it with­out a tax in­crease, but the Ari­zona Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion is call­ing for $1 bil­lion in ed­u­ca­tional fund­ing in ad­di­tion to the 20 per­cent pay raise.

Ari­zona teacher salaries rank 46th na­tion­ally af­ter ad­just­ing for cost of liv­ing, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by EdBuild.

“They have earned this raise,” Mr. Ducey said in an open let­ter. “Now it’s time for us to de­liver.”

The free mar­ket Gold­wa­ter Institute has threat­ened to file a law­suit against school dis­tricts over the walk­outs, ar­gu­ing that they amount to an il­le­gal strike and breach of con­tract in a state that does not per­mit strikes by public school em­ploy­ees.

“This un­law­ful strike — and the district’s ef­forts to aid or en­cour­age it — are there­fore not only a breach of con­tract, but an in­ten­tional ef­fort to de­prive Ari­zona stu­dents of their con­sti­tu­tional rights,” Ti­mothy San­de­fur, Gold­wa­ter vice pres­i­dent for lit­i­ga­tion, said in a state­ment.

Ari­zona’s walk­out rep­re­sents the lat­est in a se­ries of teacher protests that be­gan in Fe­bru­ary in West Vir­ginia, where the Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved a 5 per­cent pay in­crease for all state work­ers af­ter a nine-day strike.

Teacher strikes in Ken­tucky, Ok­la­homa and Col­orado fol­lowed, with mixed re­sults.

Ari­zona Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Joe Thomas praised teach­ers af­ter the first walk­out last week, say­ing it was won­der­ful to see the “sea of red flow­ing from down­town Phoenix to the Capi­tol, where we took over the en­tire grounds of the Capi­tol.”

He said the march had “75,000 ed­u­ca­tors and sup­port­ers and stu­dents, all with one sim­ple mes­sage: that we needed to do more for our stu­dents. We ab­so­lutely can do bet­ter as a state, and we have to do bet­ter for our stu­dents.”

Then again, any­one ex­pect­ing a rev­enue boost to trans­late into im­proved test scores is likely to be dis­ap­pointed, said Ben DeGrow, direc­tor of ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy for the

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