Williams teachers walkout, join colleagues at statewide rallies

Teachers around Arizona joined their colleagues in a statewide walkout April 26.

Photo by Wendy Howell.

Teachers around Arizona joined their colleagues in a statewide walkout April 26.

Approximately 15 Williams teachers joined a statewide walkout April 26 over pay and education funding.

The unprecedented statewide job action began Thursday and continued Monday, resulting in closures of schools that educate the vast majority of the

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Submitted photo

Williams teachers Catherine Kowalski, Tommyka Phillips and Monica Moreno hold signs at the statewide teacher walkout in Phoenix April 26. The trio attended with several teachers from Williams. (Submitted photo)

state's 1.1 million public school students. Flagstaff Unified School District remained closed Monday due to low staffing levels.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers came to Phoenix April 30 to support striking Arizona teachers as theycontinue rallying for more funding.

Randi Weingarten planned to speak at a rally and hold a news where members of the #RedforEd movement will congregate. Organizers say the teachers also plan to spend part of the day meeting with legislators.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP legislative leaders said April 27 they had reached a budget agreement to boost teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020.

"This plan benefits our children's education across the state, and we are working through the weekend to introduce a budget early next week and pass it shortly thereafter," Ducey said in the statement with Senate President Steve Yarbrough and Speaker J.D. Mesnard.

Leaders of teacher groups said April 28 the announced agreement at this point is only a press release and that their other concerns remain unaddressed.

"We have no bill. We have no deal. The devil is in the details," Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association president and Noah Karvelis, Arizona Educators United organizer, said in a joint statement.

AFT officials said that because of persistent budget cuts, Arizona public schools are short almost $1 billion in yearly funding from what they need to provide a robust, quality education.

According to teacher groups, restoring the cuts could pay for much-needed textbooks; the creation of a curriculum aligned to standards; 100 percent funding for all-day kindergarten and pre-K programs; the restoration of arts classes, programs for gifted students and alternative programs for special education students; and fixing older school facilities and building new schools to reduce overcrowding.

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