Arizona teachers plan to rally at Capitol for third day of walkouts

Tens of thousands march in the Red for Ed march

Tens of thousands march in the Red for Ed march

Without a political fight against the bipartisan drive to dismantle public education, school funding remains at the whim of hostile politicians.

Arizona leaders dealing with an unprecedented teacher strike are paying the political price for long-festering resentment among many public school teachers who say they are fed up with lagging salaries and what they see as an equally unsafe attack on their profession: school vouchers.

Ducey, a Republican, had earlier offered a cumulative 20 percent pay rise by 2020 and pledged $371 million over the next five years for school infrastructure, curriculum, school buses and technology. Widespread walkouts also were under way in Colorado, where teachers protested at their own Capitol and some schools were shut down.

Chants of "Red for ed" echoed off buildings as the marchers walked from Chase Field to the Capitol building.

Arizona House and Senate leaders have reached a deal with Gov. Doug Ducey on a plan to fund his proposal for a 20-percent pay hike for teachers, but they won't disclose how they'll pay for it.

In Colorado, protests are expected to draw as many as 10,000 demonstrators. Some school districts in the Phoenix area said Friday they will be closed Monday.

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"Our classes are already over sized, underfunded and we are not getting the funding we need", Price said. On April 11, more than 100,000 school workers, students, parents and supporters participated in walk-ins at schools across the state.

Casey Callan, a first and second-grade literacy teacher at Century Elementary School, said she went to the rally to support her students and families that she teaches and to show them that if they believe in something then they should advocate for themselves and stand up for what they believe in.

Two teacher groups that have been spearheading the walkout reacted with skepticism. "Today, we are pleased to announce that this plan is a reality".

"Education is one of the most, if not the most, important thing we should be fighting for and no one seems to really care about it lately", Keene said.

The governor spoke to several thousand teachers gathered at a park near the state Capitol on the second straight day of demonstrations over pay for teachers.

Becky Pringle, the vice president for the National Education Association, explained that education as a civil right that needs to be fought for. Billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch also have spent heavily to get candidates elected in Arizona and elsewhere who favor vouchers.

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Kinette Richards, the Cherry Creek School psychologist, explained that she was very proud to stand on the steps and represent her position.

"I'm disappointed they won't have a conversation", said Barbara Skinner, an instructional specialist in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

A coalition of progressive groups filed paperwork Friday to start the process for an Arizona ballot initiative that would raise the income tax rate 3.46% on individuals who earn more than $250,000 or households that earn more than $500,000.

Gutierrez Hansen addressed legislators by saying that it is time to begin funding schools. "And it's time to move on", he said.

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.

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