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Teachers protest, walk-out and walk-in across nation as education funding movement gains traction


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  • Lisa Irish/ Arizona Education News Service

Teachers, Students, And Education Supporters Take Part In #RedForEd's Arizona's Day Of Action For Education At The State Capitol In Phoenix. Photo By Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Oklahoma teachers who walked-out of the classroom were joined by students at the capitol, Kentucky teachers protested a pension reform bill and the wear #RedForEd movement marked its fifth week in Arizona, with walk-ins at several public schools that might be a dress-rehearsal for a larger, state-wide teacher walk-out.

Teachers in Oklahoma walked-out of the classroom for the third day, calling for lawmakers to approve more funding for textbooks and technology, after legislators and the governor approved a 15 to 18 percent teacher pay increase last week, according to the Associated Press article “Oklahoma Students Rally to Support Teachers.

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Education advocates at Arizona’s Day of Action for Education. Photos by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

In Kentucky, teachers and education advocates showed their support for public education after legislators passed a state pension reform bill last week that many thought was dead and considered whether to cut education funding this week, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Education advocates wore #RedForEd and protested low teacher pay and low per-pupil education funding at the State Capitol in Phoenix for the fifth week.

Also, community members, parents, and students joined Arizona teachers during walk-ins at several public schools this week that might be a dress-rehearsal for a larger, state-wide teacher walk-out, according to the Phoenix New Times article “Arizona Teachers Willing to Set Walkout Date: ‘We Must Do Whatever We Can.

This movement led by Arizona Educators United to increase teachers’ salaries by 20 percent and restore per-pupil funding to 2008 levels was inspired by West Virginia teachers, whose nine-day strike ended after educators received a five percent pay increase. Walk-ins are planned at schools statewide on April 11.

While Arizona’s 2015 Teacher of the Year John-David Bowman says his wife’s higher salary lets him continue to do the job he loves, a third-year Oklahoma teacher Jenny Vargas is considering moving to Kansas where she can earn $8,000 more a year to better support herself and her daughter, according to the Reuters article “U.S. teachers face tough choice: Love of the job or living wage.”

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Arizona’s Day of Action for Education. Photos by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

Several years into an economic expansion in which the gains have been unevenly distributed, teachers in states with Republican majorities are demanding a larger share of the pie and an end to tax cuts that reduce state revenues, according to The Christian Science Monitor article “Surge in teacher activism challenges GOP austerity mindset.”

In response to the pro-education movement in Arizona, the governing boards of Pendergast Elementary School District and Phoenix Union High School District passed resolutions urging the state legislature to develop a meaningful, viable plan to pay teachers the professional salaries they deserve.

And the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board voted on Tuesday to increase teachers’ pay by 3.5 percent for the 2018-19 school year, according to the KTAR News 92.3 FM article “Scottsdale school board votes to raise teacher pay by next school year.”

What is a walk in?

Teachers in Lake Havasu City, Sierra Vista and around the state held walk-ins this week at their schools as a way to gain community support for their efforts to get lawmakers to increase per-pupil funding and teacher pay.

Teachers protest, walk-out and walk-in across nation as education funding movement gains traction THunderbolt-Middle-School-Teachers5ac5c451d5aea.image_

Teachers and staff at Thunderbolt Middle School line up before Wednesday morning’s walk-in to bring attention to concerns over education funding in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Today’s (Lake Havasu) News-Herald

During a walk-in, parents, students and community members assembled outside the schools with teachers, support staff and principals to march on campus or walk through school hallways before classes started or after school ended carrying signs calling for better teacher pay and education funding, according to the Cronkite News article “Arizona teachers plan walk-ins demanding pay raise, additional education funding.”

The goal is to show community support for greater education funding in a way that does not disrupt the school day or impact student learning.

In a live video message on Arizona Educators United’s Facebook page, Dylan Wegela, a social studies teacher at Marc T. Atkinson Middle School in Phoenix and co-organizer of AEU said, “If we can have a thousand schools walk in, we can have a thousand schools walkout, ” according to the Phoenix New Times article.