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Teachers in Arizona and Colorado are rallying for school funding

Educators in Arizona and Colorado on Thursday are taking to the streets, calling out lawmakers for what they say is t...

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 6:32 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 6:32 PM

Educators in Arizona and Colorado on Thursday are taking to the streets, calling out lawmakers for what they say is too little investment for far too long in their paychecks and their classrooms.

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.

Dozens of school districts across both states were expected to be closed Thursday.

Arizona's first teacher walkout

Arizona's public school teachers planned to walk out after weeks of voicing their dissatisfaction over pay and educational funding. It's the first teacher walkout in the state's history.

Educators in 90 districts were expected to walk out Thursday, with between 30,000 and 50,000 teachers participating, according to the Arizona Educators United grassroots coalition.

Though the governor weeks ago announced a proposal to raise teacher pay over the next three years, educators say it's not enough.

Arizona Educators United wants a 20% raise for teachers by next school year and yearly raises after that until Arizona's teacher salaries reach the national average. The group also wants Arizona to restore education funding to 2008 levels, while Gov. Doug Ducey has offered to restore $371 million in cuts over five years.

Ducey on Thursday reiterated his intention to secure 20% raises, saying in a statement that teachers must be "respected, and rewarded, for the work they do -- and Arizona can do better on this front."

Ducey, a Republican, encouraged students' parents to call their lawmakers to ask them to vote "yes" on the proposal. His statement did not address educators' other demands.

The Arizona American Federation of Teachers, or AFT, on Wednesday offered its own proposal, which it said would pay for school funding and teacher raises.

The state branch of the national union called for a 2.5% statewide tax on certain now-untaxed services, such as haircuts and legal services, that would raise $2.65 billion each year, according to a news release.

The money could be used to maintain school buildings, provide classroom supplies, fund kindergarten programs and provide salary increases to all school staff, the AFT said.

"Our students, educators, parents and communities have been backed up against a wall for more than a decade," Arizona AFT President Ralph Quintana said in the statement.

Colorado teachers plan 2 days of action

In Colorado, crowds of educators and their allies -- wearing red -- converged Thursday on the Capitol steps. At least 25 school districts were closing Thursday or Friday, according to the Colorado Education Association.

Some of those districts had teacher work days planned, but a majority of them were closing because educators had called in to take personal days, and districts were short on substitutes, CEA Vice President Amie Baca-Oehlert said.

Sharon Roybal, a high school teacher in the Jefferson County School District, told CNN that she and her colleagues aren't given the resources to do their jobs efficiently.

"We are a high school of over 2,100 students," she said. "We have two copiers. One is broke as we speak."

"We have a staff of 85 teachers. We are waiting in line to make copies," Roybal said.

State budget writers have set aside $100 million for education funding, but teachers say they need more, The Denver Post reported.

The state has not kept up with a constitutional mandate to increase school funding each year by at least the rate of inflation, the CEA says. But raising taxes to pay for that is difficult because the state's 1992 taxpayer bill of rights requires that voters approve any tax hikes.

Colorado's average teacher salary ranks 31st in the country, according to the National Education Association. The group says low pay and funding means working in Colorado's schools is less attractive to college graduates and prompts teachers to leave the profession early, leading to a shortage of qualified teachers.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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