Arizona teachers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a statewide walkout next week, escalating their push for higher pay and increased school funding.
The Arizona Education Association announced Thursday night that its members voted to strike. With over 57,000 votes tallied, 78% of school employees in the state said "yes," association president Joe Thomas said.
CNN affiliate KNXV said it would be the first teachers statewide walkout.
"No one wants to see teachers strike. If schools shut down, our kids are the ones who lose out," Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted after the announcement.
"We have worked side by side with the education community to develop a sustainable plan to give teachers a 20% 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."
Ducey announced this month that he plans to give teachers 20% pay raises by the 2020 school year. Under his proposal, by 2020, the average teachers' salary would go up to $58,130 from the current $48,372.
Arizona ranks 43rd in the nation in terms of how much it pays its teachers, according to the National Education Association.
State educators are pushing for better pay and improved school conditions, inspired in part by teachers in West Virginia, who got a 5% pay raise last month after protesting. The teachers' union in Oklahoma ended a walkout this month after nine days.
For weeks, state educators have held rallies and "walk-ins" before class. They will continue with walk-ins Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then begin a walkout Thursday, he said.