Montini: Will #RedForEd teachers strike … or fold?
Thousands of #RedForEd Arizona teachers rally for more education funding at the state Capitol in Phoenix on March 28, 2018. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
Teachers in West Virginia did it.
Teachers in Oklahoma threatened to do it, and their state lawmakers blinked, passing legislation that will raise some taxes to pump $450 million for teacher raises.
So, is Arizona next?
Like West Virginia? Like Oklahoma?
Teachers and their supporters in the #RedForEd are holding demonstrations and making demands, and Gov. Doug Ducey is, essentially, ignoring them.
It doesn’t look that way, but that’s what is happening.
During their big demonstration at the State Capitol Wednesday teachers here demanded 20 percent pay raises. Which they deserve.
They’re demanding that state education funding return to 2008 levels. Which is more than reasonable.
They want competitive pay for education support professionals, a "permanent" salary structure to guarantee future raises and a ban on tax cuts until the state's per-pupil funding reaches the national average.
All of these are reasonable, even necessary, demands.
In response to all this, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office issued a statement that praised teachers and pledged to “increase our investment in public education” and “put more resources into K-12 education” but directly responded to exactly none of the #RedForEd demands.
Demands go unanswered ... for now
Ducey’s statement reads:
"Governor Ducey believes teachers are the biggest difference-makers out there. They do extraordinary work each day, and they should be valued and rewarded for their hard work. More needs to done, but our state has made progress. School districts have increased their investment in teacher salaries by 9%, according to the Arizona School Boards Association. In 2017, we saw an increase of 4.3% in teacher average salaries from 2016 to 2017. His goal for to (sic) pass a budget in the next few weeks that continues to increase our investment in public education, but we won't stop there. We will continue each year to put more resources into K-12 education to better serve our teachers and students. He meets with teachers regularly and wants to continue a dialogue about increasing our investment in Arizona schools and teachers."
Dialogue doesn’t pay the bills.
Teachers in West Virginia got a 5 percent raise after going on strike.
Teachers in Oklahoma were promising to strike if something wasn’t done about their salaries and their elected officials believed them and did something, passing legislation that will raise salaries.
We are fast approaching the point in Arizona when demonstrations and dialogue will no longer satisfy anyone.
At the point of no return?
In the end, it will most likely come down to a standoff and all of those #RedForEd teachers will have to make a very tough choice. They will have to threaten a strike. And mean it. And then perhaps actually do it.
And even then there are no guarantees.
After that, it will be up to Arizona’s parents to side with the teachers or side with the politicians.
It’s the teachers who won’t be getting paid, however. Politicians manage to cash their checks no matter how badly they perform.
So, what will #RedForEd do? Will they give the governor and the Legislature a deadline?
Who will blink first?
Will they follow the lead of their brother and sister educators in West Virginia and Oklahoma, who, like teachers in Arizona, were at the bottom of the barrel for teacher salaries?
There’s going to be some kind of staring contest.
There doesn’t seem to be any way around it.The only question is how long will it last, and who will blink first?
MORE FROM MONTINI: