Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Teachers in Arizona, Colorado walk out for more school money

Teachers in Arizona, Colorado walk out for more school money

At first glance, the scene probably looked familiar to many people in Phoenix: tens of thousands massing outside Chase Field on a bright Thursday afternoon in April, clad in red and rippling with anticipation. "We are driving to a light rail station, taking the train to the stadium where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball, and then marching 1.7 miles to the capitol".

Some of those districts had teacher work days planned, but a majority of them were closing because educators had called in to take personal days, and districts were short on substitutes, CEA Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert said. People briefed on the polling say it gets more than 60 percent support. More than 840,000 Arizona students are expected to be out of school Thursday, according to an analysis from the Arizona Republic that tallied up at least 100 school districts and charter schools are closing.

"They need to be respected, and rewarded, for the work they do - and Arizona can do better on this front".

Many are wearing red as part of the #RedforEd Campaign.

Garcia said organizers haven't set a timeline because "we have no idea what's going to happen".

At the protest's heart are escalating frustrations with pay and financial support for schools - similar to those that have motivated teachers in several other states to walk out since a showdown in West Virginia ended with a salary bump for educators there.

According to the National Education Association, Colorado ranks 31st this year in average teacher salary at $51,808.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has already proposed boosting teacher pay 20 percent by 2020, but educators are concerned over how he plans to pay for it. We stand with our teachers and have a plan to bring them the raise they deserve.

She has worked as a teacher and principal, and says she's noticing Colorado's known issues with education funding creep to the university level.

Over 10,000 Colorado teachers are expected to rally in Denver on Thursday and Friday for more school funding, cancelling classes for over half of the state's students.

Yet the protesting teachers have already rejected this proposal, calling it unsustainable as it is now drawn up.

Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association has said the walkout has no end date, and educators may have to consider a ballot initiative for education funding if lawmakers do not come up with their own plan. "I'm working to get this 20% raise passed".

"I had a student in my homeroom ask me why they aren't good enough to have real books", Soyka said. They plan to march and rally again from 1 to 3 p.m.

"It is unfortunate that many teachers are apparently preparing to strike, walking out on the students and forcing schools to close their doors".

Lawmakers can't raise taxes without getting voter approval. "Anything the state raised over that cap - typically in boom years - would be refunded to taxpayers".

Ducey's proposal offered teachers a 20 percent raise to be spread over two years and more funding for schools.

They are also warily eyeing pension negotiations underway between state lawmakers, which may significantly alter the structure of state employee pensions.

While thousands of educators descend on the Arizona Capitol this week in protest, students will be cared for by friends, family or community organizations.

Schools in four Colorado counties closed Thursday, saying there would be too many teacher absences to properly provide classes.

Working parents had a week to figure out where to send their children starting Thursday after teachers voted overwhelmingly to hold an unprecedented statewide strike in their push to increase funding for public education.

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