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Arizona Educators Back At Capitol For Day 3 Of #RedForEd Walkout
Arizona teachers to march around the Capitol, led by the band teachers. pic.twitter.com/Bm485cBRwr— Casey Kuhn (@CaseyAtTheDesk) April 30, 2018
Erika Flores teaches first grade at Copper Rim Elementary in Globe. Though her school reopened Monday, she and several other teachers from her district took the day off to represent their rural district at the Capitol.
“While I feel this 20 by 20 could potentially be a step in the right direction I don’t understand how forecasting into the future and not being able to have a budget that does truly extend that far. It makes me nervous," said Flores.
Flores and her colleagues met with Globe Republican legislator David Cook, who supports the gov. Doug Ducey's plan to increase teacher salaries 20 percent by the year 2020.
The governor announced Friday he had reached a deal with lawmakers on a budget that includes funding for education but released no details.
Arizona’s teacher walkout has attracted the leader of the nation’s largest teachers union. At the state Capitol Monday, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, addressed supporters of the #RedForEd movement.
“What has happened in Arizona is transformational,” she said.
Before arriving in Phoenix, Randi Weingarten spent time with teachers who walked out in West Virginia in February and Oklahoma earlier this month.
“The reason it’s different is because probably three months it would have been unimaginable to conceive that it would happen in Arizona,” she told KJZZ after the news conference.
Weingarten, whose group claims 1.7 million members nationwide, said what’s taking place in Arizona and around the country may be a once in a generation moment.
“People are so frustrated and they’re so cynical because they’ve been treated so terribly,” she said. “You’ve got to walk the walk with people and you have to show up.”
The grassroots group largely responsible for Arizona’s #RedForEd movement, has five demands:
- 20 percent salary increase for Arizona teachers.
- Competitive pay for education support professionals.
- Permanent certified salary structure which includes annual raises.
- Restoring education funding to 2008 levels.
- No new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.
KJZZ’s Mariana Dale reports the crowd of educators has been growing throughout Monday morning, the third consecutive weekday in which most schools closed as teachers walked out.
Dale says most of the protesters were dressed in red and have told her they are going to be out for the long haul. She also said she noticed something different today.
“You've kind of seen a shift in the signage that you're seeing from teachers here . . . messages that are really calling out Governor Ducey and his plan saying that they don't support it and that they want to see more,” Dale said.
She talked to several rural teachers who left their communities at 3:30 this morning to arrive at the Capitol in time for the rally and speeches.
“So there's still a lot of enthusiasm for the movement,” she said.
Despite that, Dale said there were fewer teachers than on previous days. Many brough coolers, shade covers, and one even was passing the time by knitting.
“They're planning to be here until we see some action from the Legislature or from the governor. They’re starting to camp out. They're starting to dig . . . but are they are they getting frustrated with the lack of response from the governor and from the Legislature.”
That frustration seems to be what’s behind the movement, Dale noted.
“You get the sense that it's really hard for teachers to be here and to not be in school,” adding “they're doing what they can to make their voices heard.”
Thousands of teachers are gathering again at the state Capitol today demanding higher teacher pay and more education funding from Gov. Doug Ducey and the Republican-led state Legislature.
KJZZ’s Casey Kuhn said thousands of teachers are at the Capitol. A lot of people gathered where legislators park their vehicles in hopes of getting their attention.
Demonstrators were also lining up to go speak to their representatives. They complained that Ducey tweeted Friday about a deal without providing any details of one. Organizer Noah Karvelis called it a step in the right direction. He would not say whether protesters plan to be at the Capitol on Tuesday.
“[Ducey is] responding to some of our our points it seems, which is encouraging, Korvalis said. “Now we will hope that it translates into legislation here and we can work together to find a solution.”
Kuhn noted organizers haven't seen a bill yet. And there hasn't been one introduced.
Teachers are asking that $1 billion in education funding be restored to bring the state to pre-2008 levels.They also want a 20 percent raise by 2020 and a pay boost for support staff.
“Ever since the first day even that I spoke to teachers people have been concerned about their friends and colleagues who are or are not salary their hourly and don't get paid for these days of course they'll have to make up the days anyway,” Kuhn said.
Tucson teacher Barbara MacDonald told Kuhn she's been a teacher for more than 40 years and made the drive to the Capitol for those who couldn’t make the trip.
“ We're family, we're doing what we know,” MacDonald said.
Kuhn said a band played on the Capitol mall while demonstrators gathered for a 10 a.m. rally.
“It's almost like a festival,” Kuhn said, adding that demonstrators carried home-made signs and brought children and dogs with them. Their goal was to keep the pressure on the Legislature.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the spelling of Barbara MacDonald's and Noah Karvelis's name.
Many of the more than 1,000 Arizona schools closed last week remain shuttered Monday.
The #RedForEd protests involving demand for better pay, school funding and raises for support staff are continuing at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix.
Check back for updates.