Matt York / AP
Updated at 15:45 ET
At first glance, the scene seemed to be known to many people in Phoenix: tens of thousands of massages outside Chase Field on a bright Thursday afternoon in April, dressed in red and full of anticipation. But this scene, if it were typical, would show fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks – not the teachers who gathered near the ballpark, with a very different event.
Arizona teachers went on Thursday with a series of demands from their classrooms in their hands, most notably an increase and a return to school funding levels a decade ago. And many of those who go out have descended to downtown Phoenix, where they march from Chase Field to a rally outside the State Capitol. Organizers expected to attend from 30,000 to 50,000 teachers and their supporters.
Meanwhile, dozens of public school districts and charter schools have closed for the day due to lack of staff. According to an analysis by The Arizona Republic, more than 840,000 of 1.1 million students – or about 75 percent across the state – were affected by the closures.
"I think our students understand we need change and enough is enough," Noah Karvelis, a teacher and organizer of Arizona Educators United, or AEU, said at a press conference on Wednesday before the rally. The base group is behind #RedForEd, the movement that encourages teachers and their followers to wear red in solidarity.
"We just can not stand it anymore," said Karvelis.
At the heart of the protests escalating frustrations with pay and financial support for schools – much like those that have motivated teachers in several other states to go out, as a showdown in West Virginia ended with a pay rise for educators. In Colorado, teachers are also protesting on Thursday and Friday, which has already resulted in the closure of a handful of the major school districts of this state.
In Arizona, the AEU in particular has announced five key demands – including 20 percent for next-year teachers and certified staff, smaller classes, and annual pay rises The State Reaches the National Average Salary, Which Is Nearly $ 59,000 a Year for the Public School Teacher
Currently, the average for Arizona is just over $ 47,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The governor of the state, Doug Ducey, has proposed a 20 percent wage increase for Arizona teachers by 2020. "This salary increase is earned and earned."
"For the parents, I understand the pain and pressure caused by today's strike, and I want you to know that I'm working to make sure that this 20 percent salary increase is made that day." But we They need your help to make them a reality, "he said on Thursday in a statement encouraging parents to contact their legislators.
But the protesting teachers have already rejected this suggestion and described it as untenable. Teacher groups, including the Arizona Parent Teacher Association, argue that the increase in the plan would simply lead to suffering for others in the state education system.