Arizona teachers’ walkout ends with new education funding

It took six days, but Arizona teachers are ending their walkout after the governor signed an education funding bill into law.

In marathon legislative negotiations that lasted overnight, both the House and Senate passed the bill before it went to Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday morning.

The measure, dubbed the “#20×2020” plan, gives a 20% boost in teacher pay over the next three years — including 10% in school year 2018, the governor’s office said.

The new law also increases funding for support staff, new textbooks, upgraded technology and infrastructure, which will help make up for recession-era cuts.

“The plan is (for teachers) to return to classrooms on Friday, but it’s up to each district to make that determination,” National Education Association spokesman Miguel Gonzalez said.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garca and Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas lauded the teachers’ efforts.

“When we started this movement, Arizona educators pledged to keep fighting for the schools their students deserve until the end, and we were true to our word,” Eskelsen Garca said.

“We will return to our schools, classrooms, and students, knowing that we have achieved something truly historic. We should take pride in what we have accomplished, and in the movement that we have created together.”

But some teachers lamented that some “pro-education” amendments they fought for were struck down, such as one that would reduce class sizes.

Eskelsen Garca and Thomas said teachers will keep pushing for more.

“The #RedforEd fight continues,” the joint statement said. “And over the next few days, we will provide additional details about next steps.”