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Arizona schools to shut down next week in another teachers' strike

Arizona teachers plan to strike for higher wages beginning Thursday. Arizona's average teacher salary was 45th in the nation as of 2016-2017, according to the National Education Association. (J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

Arizona teachers have voted to stage a statewide strike starting next week, following the lead of teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma who also shut down their state's schools to protest for higher wages and more funding, according to KNXV-TV.

West Virginia's teachers earned a 5 percent pay raise from their strike, while Oklahoma teachers got an average raise of $6,100 days before their strike. They were seeking $10,000, but nine days of striking did not yield any additional money.

About 30 school districts in Kentucky have been striking for higher wages, out of 173 total districts in the state, protesting low wages and changes to teacher pension plans.

What's the story?

Seventy-eight percent of Arizona school employees voted to begin a statewide walkout next Thursday. The teachers will hold walk-in protests before classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The worst possible thing we could do is not take action right now," said Noah Karvelis, an organizer for Arizona Educators United.

What do they want?

Arizona's average teacher salary is $48,372. The teachers are asking for at least a $10,000 per year raise, as well as increased wages for school support staff.

Arizona's average teacher salary was 45th in the nation as of 2016-2017, according to the National Education Association.

Gov. Doug Ducey said there is already a plan to give teachers a 20 percent raise over the next few years.

He tweeted:

"No one wants to see teachers strike. If schools shut down, our kids are the ones who lose out. We have worked side by side with the education community to develop a sustainable plan to give teachers a 20 percent salary raise by 2020.

"I am committed to getting teachers this raise and am working to get this passed at the Legislature. We need teachers teaching, and kids learning."

Why isn't Ducey's plan enough?

According to The Hill, many teachers say the 20 percent by 2020 plan isn't enough because it doesn't include increased salaries for support staff, and feel that the proposal is an attempt to divide the unions and weaken the strike.

(H/T The Hill)

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