Speed Reads

teachers on strike

Teachers are walking out in Arizona and Colorado today, seeking better pay and school funding

Tens of thousands of schoolteachers are walking off the job in Arizona on Thursday, in the state's first statewide teachers' strike. Teachers in four Colorado school districts, including two of the state's largest, are also walking out today, a day before a statewide demonstration on Friday.

In both states, the teachers are seeking higher pay — the average annual salary for teachers in Arizona is $47,403 and in Colorado, $51,808, versus a national average of $59,660 — and increased funding for schools, after years of cuts and shortfalls. In Colorado, lawmakers are also considering changes to the state's public pension system that would reduce take-home pay for teachers.

In Arizona, where teachers overwhelmingly approved the strike, there is no set end to the walkout. Many of Arizona's school districts, including its largest, will be closed at least Thursday and Friday, and churches and community groups are working to provide inexpensive or free emergency day care for parents. All four Colorado districts closed today are expected to be open Friday, while the state's largest district, in Denver, will be closed Friday. Teachers have already gone on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky this spring.