As the Arizona State Legislature works to pass the budget, the Arizona Educators United (AEU) and the Arizona Education Association (AEA) called to end the RedforEd walkout, provided the budget is passed on Thursday.
"This fight that we are in the middle of is about our students. It is about their opportunity, it’s about their success and it’s about their future," said AEA President Joe Thomas during a press conference held late Tuesday afternoon. "If we have the resources to support us, we will have the ability to support our students."
He thanked the supporters and those that have donated food and water during the protests at the Capitol.
Stating that they have "moved the needle" on the discussion, Arizona Educators United organizer Noah Karvelis maintains that, "This budget does not do enough. It does not do enough for our kids, it doesn’t do enough for our colleagues. So we are staying dedicated to fighting for our kids, and fighting for the future of Arizona schools. We’ve done a lot, but this budget does not do enough for us now, and we’re staying committed to fighting for our students, and that’s what we will continue to do as educators because that is the most important thing to us, it is the most important thing to our state. The future of our state depends on that fight."
Rebecca Garelli, Arizona Educators United organizer started by saying, "Our fight is not over. We have options. But, it is time for us to get back to our students and get back into our classrooms… If the lawmakers do their jobs and get the budget passed by Thursday, we commit to return to our classrooms then. Our greatest victory is the powerful movement we have created."
"They’re [the legislators] are still not doing enough, that’s for sure, but we need them to at least do this much for now and we’ll be ready to go back by Thursday," Karvelis said, referring to the passage of the budget.
Karvelis suggested that other protest options remain, "One of the biggest things that we’re talking about that we’re looking forward to is the walk-in, as soon as we get back. To talk to the parents and say, 'Thank you for standing with us,' and talking to our students and say, 'Thank you for still being here and supporting us and understanding the decisions that we made.'"
"What we’re seeing is, the legislature is only going to go so far," Karvelis said, expressing an interest in a proposed initiative that would increase the income tax on those making $250K per year and above.
"The war is not over, but we’ve won an important battle to move the legislature this far," Karvelis concluded.
During the walkout, Governor Ducey kept strictly focused on his message of a 20% pay raise for teachers by 2020, despite other demands made by the AEU and AEA. The proposed budget includes that pay raise, but does not specifically address the other issues.