Thousands of teachers in Arizona, Colorado protesting wages, school funding

27 April, 2018, 00:50 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Jefferson County teacher Karrie Wallis was one of thousands to protest at the state capitol April 26. “The essence of American democracy really relies on our education,” Wallis said

Spurred by the recent efforts of teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, teachers in Arizona are walking out of their classrooms, while Colorado's teachers are rallying at their state Capitol. "During the same time frame, corporations in Colorado have received over $1.6 billion in tax breaks, while every year, educators are asked to do more with less".

"We are fed up at this point", Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, told ABC News this week.

The demonstrations are just the latest in a movement that has been sweeping the country.

When it comes to teacher salaries, the state of Colorado is in the middle of the pack compared to other states. But educators have since rebuked the offer, insisting that they want a wholesale increase to public school funding so that pay for school staff - not just teachers - is also competitive.

Cathy Nowicki, a math teacher at Kingman Middle School in Arizona, said in an interview that she and her colleagues roam the halls in their building looking "like something from Indiana Jones" as they attempt to crush the various many-legged critters skittering across the floors. About half of all Colorado students will see their schools shuttered over two days.

"A lot of things could happen", Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said via text message. "And we want the parents to understand that this fight is for your child". "While the schools close, the Legislature remains open, with leaders attempting to complete their task to bring the teachers significantly better pay".

On Thursday, Soyka said, the main question on educators' minds will be how Arizona's legislature plans to fund education for the long-term and not as "a bandage or a quick fix that won't last".

Without a doubt, teachers are some of the biggest difference-makers in the lives of Arizona children.


Saying he won't be offering anything more, Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday the teacher strike will end when they realize he's made them a good offer and they all go back to work.

"We've all been listening - but now, it's time to act", Ducey added.

"If we move a 20 percent raise to the teachers and there is an ongoing strike, that doesn't make sense, " Ducey said. This raise is earned, and it is deserved.

"I don't know why the leaders would say that they're going to strike when we are delivering for the teachers on what we believe they deserve", Ducey reportedly told KFYI-FM. "I think we're all trying to figure out if we can make that specifically work".

While acknowledging that teachers will walk out today and Friday - many schools already are closed in anticipation - the governor specifically said he expects them to return next week.

"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. "One is broke as we speak".

"We can't continue to have our schools be underfunded", said Noah Karvelis, who helped organize Arizona Educators United, the grass-roots group that pushed the Red for Ed movement on social media. Organizers expected from 30,000 to 50,000 teachers and their supporters to attend. 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.

The NEA previously reported the average Colorado's teacher salary for 2016 was $46,000. Samuels says that, to her knowledge, Ducey has still refused to meet with educators in person and has so far only invited school superintendents to the table.

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