Arizona teachers vote for 1st statewide strike

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona teachers have voted to walk off the job to demand increased school funding.

A grass-roots group and the state's largest teacher membership group said Thursday that teachers voted overwhelming in favor of a walkout. The state's largest teacher membership group said that teachers will walkout April 26.

Arizona jumped into a movement for higher teacher pay that started in West Virginia, where a strike garnered a raise, and spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Colorado.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has offered a proposal that gives teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020. Many teachers say the plan failed to address much-needed funding for classrooms and support staff.

Ducey blasted the decision on Twitter and said he is committed to getting teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020.

Joe Thomas, the president of Arizona Education Association, says the governor's plan doesn't address other needs, including raises for support staff and a return to pre-Great Recession school funding levels.

Arizona House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios released a statement supporting the planned teacher walkout.

Rios says teachers have earned a pay increase that's based on a real revenue source, "not smoke and mirrors." Rios called the walkout "brave and righteous."

Parents and communities already have been making plans for child care and food boxes for kids who rely on free breakfast and lunch at school.

Teachers could face consequences in Arizona, where unions do not collectively bargain with districts and representation is not mandatory.

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