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Teachers in Ariz., Colo. to Protest    04/26 06:11

   PHOENIX (AP) -- A wave of red-clad teachers will crash upon the Arizona 
state Capitol on Thursday for an unprecedented job action that will close 
schools for a majority of the state's public school students, part of an 
educator uprising that's also bubbled up in Colorado.

   Around 30,000 to 50,000 teachers and their supporters are expected to march 
through Phoenix to rally at the Arizona state Capitol to demand a 20 percent 
raise for teachers, about $1 billion to return school funding to pre-Great 
Recession levels and increased pay for support staff, among other things.

   In Colorado, more than 10,000 teachers are expected to demonstrate in Denver 
as part of a burgeoning teacher uprising. About half of the student population 
will have shuttered schools as a result, with teachers using personal leave 
time to take off.

   The walkouts are the climax of an uprising that began weeks ago with the 
grass-roots #RedforEd movement that spread from West Virginia, Oklahoma and 
Kentucky.

   Colorado lawmakers from both parties have agreed to give schools their 
largest budget increase since the Great Recession. But teachers say that the 
state has a long way to go to make up for ground lost during the recession and 
before that due to the state's strict tax and spending limits.

   Arizona Education Association president Joe Thomas said that tomorrow's 
march to the Capitol is necessary after attempts at outreach have been ignored. 
There's no end date for the walkout and he said educators may have to consider 
a ballot initiative for education funding if lawmakers do not come up with a 
plan on their own.

   "How it ends is up to the governor and up to those legislative leaders," 
Thomas said. "If they're courageous, if they have the political capital to come 
down and speak with us, we all get a win."

   Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has laid out a plan for a 20 percent teacher pay 
raise by 2020, but organizers of the so-called #RedforEd movement say his plan 
relies on rosy revenue projections and doesn't address the other issues.

   Districts around the state have said they will close as a result of the 
walkout. More than 840,000 Arizona students are expected to be out of school on 
Thursday, according to an analysis from the Arizona Republic that tallied up at 
least 100 school districts and charter schools are closing. The state 
Department of Education said the state has more than 200 districts and more 
than 1.1 million school children.


(KA)

 
 
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