Teachers in Arizona plan to end their historic statewide strike as early as Thursday.
The strike, which began last week, has led to the closure of schools across 110 districts. Of the 1.1 million public school students in the state, more than 850,000 students were affected on the first day of the strike, with more than 768,000 still out of school as of Tuesday.
The teachers’ original demands included competitive pay for teachers and support staff, annual raises, a restoration of education funding to 2008 levels, and no new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.
While the budget deal proposed by Gov. Doug Ducey and state lawmakers falls short of the teachers’ demands, Arizona teachers said Tuesday that they would end the strike this week if the plan was passed. It is largely expected to pass on Wednesday.
The proposed deal would give teachers a 10% raise next year, with the aim of a 20% increase by 2020. It would also restore $371 million of cut funding to pay for supplies, repairs, and some support staff salaries over the next five years.
But despite promising to end the strike, teachers have suggested that their fight is not over. Rebecca Garelli, a teacher and Arizona Educators United organizer, said that the teachers “have options.”
“But it is time for us to get back to our students and get back into our classrooms,” she told the Associated Press..
The teacher’s strike in Arizona followed similar protests in Oklahoma and West Virginia. Arizona’s teacher salaries are among the lowest in the country.