Updated Friday, April 27 at 3:19 p.m. and 10 a.m. and Thursday, April 26, 2018 2:50 p.m.
More than 50,000 teachers walked-out of their classrooms Thursday morning and were joined by supporters in their march from Chase Field through downtown Phoenix to the Arizona State Capitol to protest low pay and per-pupil funding as part of the #RedForEd movement, after no agreement was reached on three proposals earlier this week.
— Chopperguy (@chopperguyhd) April 26, 2018
At 9 a.m. Thursday, as educators, parents, students, kids and community members gathered downtown near Chase Field, drivers honked their horns in support.
AZEdNews Videoby Brooke Razo: #RedForEd Rally
What happened on Friday
Then at 3:06 p.m. on Friday, the Governor’s Office sent out a press release saying Gov. Ducey, Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard announced a deal on a 20 percent pay raise for Arizona teachers.
“Earlier this month, we stood shoulder to shoulder, in unity with the education community, to announce a plan for a 20 percent increase in teacher pay by school year 2020. Today, we are pleased to announce that this plan is a reality. Arizona is delivering on its commitment to our students and teachers,” the press release stated.
“We are also restoring recession-era cuts to increase funding for schools and putting more money into the classroom — flexible dollars for superintendents to use for support staff pay increases, update antiquated curriculum and improve school infrastructure — without raising taxes. This plan benefits our children’s education across the state, and we are working through the weekend to introduce a budget early next week and pass it shortly thereafter,” the press release stated.
While the basic outline of the governor’s teacher pay plan remains unchanged, the focus now will be on the details to make sure the plan can be implemented, said Leigh Jensen, government relations associate with Arizona School Boards Association in her daily update newsletter.
This afternoon, education advocates led by the Arizona Center for Economic Progress filed an initiative measure to increase the income tax on upper income earners to fund teacher and classified staff raises.
The Invest in Education Act increased the Classroom Site Fund by raising the income tax by 3.46% on individual incomes over a quarter million dollars and by 4.46 percent on individual incomes over a half a million dollars. It designate 60 percent of the new funds for teacher salaries and 40 percent for operations, and adds full-day kindergarten and raises for student support personnel as permitted fund uses. It also requires governing boards to seek teacher and personnel input on fund use plans, and defines teachers and student support services personnel.
At the #RedForEd March and Rally
Early on Thursday, Marissa Martinez, a mother of five children who was in front of Talking Stick Arena with her daughter who is going into kindergarten said she was there for the march and rally, because she wants to support the educational system.
“I believe our teachers educate our future, without the teachers we would have nothing,” Martinez said. “If I wasn’t parenting, I’d be in the schools.”
When asked what she thought of Governor Doug Ducey’s proposal to raise teacher pay, Martinez said, “I’m not too fond of it. I think they could do better. Education means a lot. Without education a person doesn’t have much of anything. I think he needs to give us more consideration.”
“I’m here for them, because we want to see change in our classroom so that they can have a better education,” Hollins said.
“I come from a really great school district, we have a lot of resources for our students, but I definitely want to see support for all of the kids in the State of Arizona so they have the resources they need to be successful and to raise society, because it’s crucial” Hollins said.
When asked about the Governor’s plan, Hollins said, “I appreciate that he responded, but he can do better. I think that if we really want to see change in our communities, change in our society, we need to fund education properly. Not prisons, but schools.”
After gathering with a group of teachers for a photo, Paula Watkins, a reading interventionist at Griffith Elementary School in Balsz Elementary School District in Phoenix, said she’s hopeful that something happens soon and that the Governor and Legislators come up with the dedicated funding source.
“We’re here asking to have our funding restored to 2008 levels,” Watkins said.
“I know the media and everyone is just grasping on to the 20 percent teacher pay increase, but that’s not what we’re here for. It’s so much more,” Watkins said.
“Even if it was the 20 percent with a dedicated funding source behind it, we would have said ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ ” Watkins said.
Watkins noted that yesterday at her school, they packed 512 snack bags for kids with donations and 100 lunches they could take home to have when school is closed for the walkout.
“We care about our kids. We don’t want them to go without,” Watkins said.
Watkins said teachers and school staff have rallied together and “the district supports this,” but that “it’s hard, because kids are stuck in the middle of all this.”
“Yesterday, they were like ‘Are we going to see you? Are you coming back?’ And you can’t really talk about it with them, but you’re like ‘Yeah, we’ll be back,’ ” Watkins said.
The March through downtown Phoenix began at 11 a.m. with thousands of people dressed in red, holding signs, chanting “Red for Ed” and cheering each other on in the heat which hit the mid nineties.
The group marched west on Washington toward the capitol where a stage was set up in front of the state capitol building and speakers rallied the crowd.
“Let me tell you something right now, I’m a little tired of business as usual,” said Noah Karvelis, co-organizer of Arizona Educators United at the rally at the Capitol. ”
“Me too,” people in the crowd responded.
“I’m a little tired of our students in Arizona not having a textbook that goes beyond George W. Bush,” Karvelis said. “I’m a little tired of hearing stories from teachers who can’t afford to bring their kid to the doctor. I’m tired of that.”
“This movement was born out of decades of neglect.” Karvelis said. “This movement was born out of years living paycheck to paycheck. This movement was born out of the experience of looking into our students eyes and knowing that our state and the people who work in this building do not fund their success.”
“Standing together here today, you are bringing change,” Karvelis said.”Together, we are going to bring a change that is felt in every single corner of this state and affects every single child in Arizona, and you need to be proud of that, because if you didn’t do it, no one else would.”
— Gina Maravilla (@GinaMaravillaTV) April 26, 2018
Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, thanked everyone for coming to the rally.
“What I need you to understand is that today is not going to be enough,” Thomas said. “The Governor is working right now on a plan that’s going to bring some raises to some of you, not all of you, but some of you.”
“This is the problem. The governor thinks he’s going to be able to buy enough of you off that you’ll go back to your classrooms and you’ll shut up and teach,” Thomas said. “Is that going to work?”
“No,” the crowd responded.
“We are here today because of our students, and it’s what the Legislature and the Governor don’t understand,” Thomas said. “They think #RedForEd is simply about a teacher raise. That’s part of the puzzle. It’s about bringing $1 billion back to our students. It’s about having band instruments. It’s about having elective courses. It’s about having a class size beneath 40.”
“The #RedForEd movement is about bringing a great public school to every kid in the state, regardless of where they live. That’s why we’re here,” Thomas said.
“What we students have come to understand is that funded schools are safer schools,” Harb said. “And unfortunately, the same support that changed my life forever is fading away quickly. So I must make it clear. Governor Ducey, teacher just don’t teach they make our children who they grew up to become.”
At the rally, Cindy Murray, a Peoria Unified School District classroom instructional assistant, said “The teachers aren’t only fighting for themselves and for the kids in the classroom, they’re fighting for the support team that goes behind them and helps the kids. Without everyone in the district, the kids lose out – special-ed kids, gen-ed kids – they all lose without the funding and the teachers and the support.”
Kacey Wilkinson, a seventh- and eighth-grade special education teacher at Desert Meadows in Laveen Elementary School District, “What brought me out here was I really want to show my love and support for my students and my fellow teachers out here.”
“I am actually thankful I work in a school district that is one of the higher paying school districts,” Wilkinson said. “I really want to show my support for my fellow teachers who are struggling to get those books for their students, and who are struggling with having poor quality with their facilities and things like that.”
Some #RedForEd supporters filled the Arizona House gallery as members began their Thursday session, clapping and chanting as lawmakers spoke, according to an Arizona Republic article.
House Republicans held a closed budget caucus Thursday morning at 9 a.m., which lasted until nearly 11 a.m., delaying floor action,said Leigh Jensen, governmental relations associate for Arizona School Boards Association in her daily update.
Reports from the House caucus session indicate that they are inching closer to the 31 votes needed to move a budget proposal, but no deal, it seems, is imminent before the weekend, Jensen said.
“The governor met this afternoon with 10 educators — teachers, counselors, school psychologists — from around the state who were here at the Capitol for the RedforEd march,” a statement from the governor’s office read.
Rep. David Livingston, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, says a deal reached Thursday could result in a budget plan next week, but he and Sen. John Kavanagh said they still need to work out the details, according to a story on KTAR News 92.3 FM.
The rally ended at 1:30 after the Senate adjourned until Monday and as the heat became more intense. The House continued working until 4:30 p.m.
Firefighters treated at least five people for heat-related issues and another 15 for non-traumatic incidents, according to a KTAR News 92.3 FM story.
On Friday, teachers and education advocates plan to rally at the capitol again, but there will be no march.
Slideshow: #RedForEd March and Rally (April 26, 2018) by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
Wednesday, April 25
The walk-out, which will affect more than 840,000 of Arizona’s 1.1 million students in public schools, is led by Arizona Educators United with help from Arizona Education Association, and aims to encourage Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature to meet their five core demands in a financially sustainable way.
— Mrs. A (@MsSwaggerson) April 25, 2018
Arizona Educators United’s five core demands are:
- A 20 percent increase in teacher salaries to make pay competitive with other states in the region.
- Restoring per-pupil funding for Arizona public schools to 2008, pre-recession levels.
- Competitive pay for all education support professionals.
- A salary plan that provides an annual raise.
- A halt to tax cuts until Arizona’s per-pupil funding reaches the national average.
The Arizona #RedForEd walk-out starting tomorrow may be the nation’s largest in recent history: https://t.co/Jab33KUs3B We support you @ArizonaEA and @AZEdUnited educators ✊ pic.twitter.com/4TP8cjcV6C
— NEA (@NEAToday) April 25, 2018
On April 22, two-thirds of the members of the Arizona School Counselors Association voted to support the walk-out as well.
Arizona School Counsleors need a Masters Degree. We are a distinguished profession and certified to do our work. We join our education community in the #redfored movement in saying #EnoughIsEnough #respect4schoolcounselors @AZSenateDems @AZSenateGOP @AZHouseDems @AZHouseGOP
— Janine Menard (@nyja9) April 25, 2018
@CNN School Counsleors are often the first line of defense when it comes to identifying mental illness in schools. @CNN Arizona has the WORST student-to-School counsleors ratio at 924:1. @AMarch4OurLives #AEUSupporters #IdontwanttostrikebutIwill #StandWithTeachers pic.twitter.com/Z59QZnxHa0
— Janine Menard (@nyja9) April 23, 2018
The current proposals
The Governor’s proposal would raise teacher’s salaries by nine percent this year and build on that each year until teacher pay is 20 percent higher in 2020, but it does not address Arizona Educators United’s other four demands.
In response, Rep. Noel Campbell (R-Prescott) proposed a budget amendment on Tuesday that would create a temporary, one-cent, three-year tax increase to increase Arizona’s per-pupil funding by $880 million, which would provide resources for increased teacher pay and other local school priorities; treat voluntary, full-day kindergarten the same as every other grade level, fund grants for construction grades training and support the constitutional mission of the state university system to provide instruction as nearly free as possible.
Also on Monday, Arizona Democratic Party legislative leaders sent a letter to Gov. Ducey asking to meet to talk about a plan that would broaden the sales tax base instead of increasing the sales tax, reverse income tax cuts for the wealthiest Arizonans, close tax loopholes and cap tax credits that divert state money to private schools.
Update from @Rios_Rebecca & @katiehobbs after meeting with the Governor’s staff about education funding. Long story short, he’s still pushing unsustainable teacher pay plan & is not willing to consider new revenues. Wouldn’t commit to meet with #RedForEd. pic.twitter.com/6LA0fSAuWo
— Arizona House Democrats (@AZHouseDems) April 25, 2018
Events this week
The #RedForEd march and rally on Thursday and another on Friday will cap a week of walk-ins at schools statewide, roadside rallies, and bridge takeovers.
— MickeyG (@MickeyG02784160) April 25, 2018
The walk-ins before classes started or after school ended were designed as a way to gain community support for educators efforts to get lawmakers to develop a financially sustainable plan that better supports K-12 education.
— Robin Code McSpadden (@Ms_Mac) April 25, 2018
On Wednesday, teachers, parents, students and other #RedForEd lined Baseline Road from 91st Avenue to Goldfield Road in Apache Junction to support the movement for increased teacher pay and education funding, while education supporters also planned to protest on pedestrian overpasses crossing Interstate 10, I-17, State Route 51 and Loops 101 and 202, according to articles in The Arizona Republic.
— Noah Karvelis (@Noah__Karvelis) April 24, 2018
— Antonia Mejia (@AMejia12News) April 25, 2018
Schools and teachers have faced a backlash this week from some parents, a legislator and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
It’s interesting that most of the critiques of the #RedForEd walkout center on the idea that schools are incredibly important places for parents, children, and communities.
Because that’s actually the point. And it’s time we recognize this and fund schools accordingly.
— Will Gaona (@Will_Gaona) April 24, 2018
I hate how people keep saying that “the students are hurting during a walkout”. We’ve been hurting. We go to school every day in crumbling classrooms, use dated textbooks as references, and our teachers buy their own supplies. NOT TO MENTION people aren’t getting paid. #RedForEd
— Grace Girmscheid (@GraceUngraceful) April 21, 2018
Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, threatened a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of Arizonans affected by school closures caused by the teacher walkout, although KTAR News 92.3 FM’s legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said on the air earlier today she doesn’t think it would meet that standard.
Shocking response from someone who is up for re-election. Shame on you Ms. Kelly Townsend for not standing up for our future. Our kids deserve better! #RedforEd #whatstheplanAZ @JoeDanaReports @Steve_Irvin @KellyTownsend11 pic.twitter.com/iT74QjPcbr
— Krystle Mathews (@krystlemathews) April 24, 2018
On Monday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said teachers might face legal consequences for a strike based on a 1971 opinion from an Arizona attorney general that prohibits strikes by public employees, including teachers, but the Office of the Attorney General Mark Brnovich has said it has not been asked to provide a new legal opinion, according to an article in the Phoenix New Times.
Earlier this week, teachers answered student’s questions about what was going on and packed folders with homework for them to take home today.
Angelina Cook “I spent my whole morning creating packets and worksheets of what we are doing and were gonna do and stuffed them with parent help in these folders. It was hard leaving today not knowing when I would see my kids again. ” #RedForEd pic.twitter.com/wk0o2qDOox
— AZEdUnited (@AZEdUnited) April 25, 2018
— AZEdUnited (@AZEdUnited) April 25, 2018
And staff at many schools have been packing meals to go home with their students today as well.
We packed meals to go home to all our students tomorrow. Today we plan for our kids. Thursday we fight for them. My #positive moment of the day! #redfored @ArizonaEA @AZEdUnited @MirageDVUSD @mirageptsa @DVUSD pic.twitter.com/D056DdDSKl
— Nicholas Martin (@Mr_Martin_4th) April 25, 2018