PHOENIX — The Arizona governor signed a plan Thursday to give striking teachers a 20 percent pay raise, ending their six-day walkout after a dramatic all-night legislative session and sending more than a million public school students back to the classroom.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature awarded teachers a 9 percent raise in the fall and 5 percent in each of the next two years. Those increases are in addition to a 1 percent raise granted last year.

Teachers did not get everything they wanted, but they won substantial gains from reluctant lawmakers.

“The educators have solved the education crisis! They’ve changed the course of Arizona,” Noah Karvelis of Arizona Educators United shouted to several thousand cheering teachers. “The change happens with us!”

Hours after Ducey acted, strike organizers called for an end to the walkout. Most schools stayed closed Thursday, except for a handful that managed to reopen shortly after the pay raises passed. Some districts planned to reopen Friday, with others likely to resume classes next week.

The Senate approved the raises just before dawn as hundreds of red-shirted teachers followed the proceedings from the lobby, many sitting on the cold stone floor.

The night before, the teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, held a candlelight vigil in a courtyard outside the original neoclassical Capitol building. They stood together with their right hands over their hearts and sang “America the Beautiful.”

Wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags, they napped on the ground or in folding metal chairs, occasionally using cellphones to monitor an online video stream of the legislative debate in the chambers.

Ducey said the teachers had earned a raise and praised the legislation as “a real win” for both teachers and students.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.