Arizona teacher walkout: Protests, preparations underway for teacher rally

27 April, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Diane Mills
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A sea of teachers clad in red shirts and holding "Money for Schools" signs reached the Arizona Capitol to press lawmakers for action Thursday, a key event in an unprecedented walkout that closed most of the state's public schools and built on an educator uprising that bubbled up in other parts of the U.S.

The protest was expected to close about three-quarters of Arizona's school districts as teachers reported their absences ahead of time, according to an analysis by the Arizona Republic.

Thursday and Friday on CBS4 News at 10 p.m. get ready to meet two Colorado teachers. He says his pay has been frozen for seven years, and that he's making 17 percent less than he was when he started his career if you factor in how much more expensive it's gotten to live on the Front Range.

And wage hikes aren't the only things that teachers in Arizona are after.

According to the National Education Association report, Colorado teachers' pay ranked 31st in the nation.

"We need more school funding", said Maggie Bishop, a Standley Lake High School student.

Cockroaches amassed in a corner of the school where Cathy Nowicki teaches in Kingman, Arizona.

"We have teachers working two to three jobs", Baca-Oehlert said. "Today, we had one classroom that had cockroaches coming from the ceiling, and in another classroom there is a leak coming from the ceiling". Another read "Standing Room Only" with faces of kids crowded onto it.

Just like in those other states, Arizona legislators now find themselves in a jam after years of tax cuts.

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"We have among the highest class sizes and school counselor loads in the nation, making it hard to meet the individual needs of our students", the petition reads.

The teachers say Colorado spends about $2,700 less than the national per-pupil average of about $12,000 a year. "One huge impact I've noticed is our reading books are destroyed, some ripped in half", she said.

With only 30 books for 90 students, she added, it's impossible to assign take-home reading assignments as homework - and the lack of supplies doesn't go unnoticed by students. "The children are the real victims of a strike", said Yarbrough. "They notice it, since it's so impossible to hide it from them".

Our goal is to ensure that students have access to highly qualified and experienced teachers, that educators are compensated fairly, and to improve the educational environment in the state of Arizona. On April 11, the grassroots #RedForEd movement held a "walk-in" demonstration that was attended by more than 100,000 educators from schools across the state. Organizers have billed the walkout as #REDforED, with participants and supporters wearing red clothes as a show of solidarity. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas told teachers not to walk out. See the pictures of torn carpeting, broken desks and moldy restrooms and tell me how giving the classroom teacher a 20-percent raise will fix those problems; the "raise" money would come from the "fixing" money.

Starting teacher pay is something that Kerrie Dallman, the president of the Colorado Education Association, says is a big priority for the state's largest teacher's union.

"A lot of people I've spoken to are okay with property taxes being raised to help pay for students' education", she said.

In Arizona, Republicans control both chambers of the statehouse, and the governor is Doug Ducey, a Republican. She said she had a "wake-up call" for school funding when she learned about a teacher paying out of pocket for a field trip.

It's not known how long the walkout will last.

"My students are my world", Nowicki said. The proposal got support from business groups and some education lobbying groups, teachers say it didn't address their other demands.

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