Estimated 75,000 people rallied for teacher walkout at the capitol
April 26, 2018
An estimated 75,000 teachers, school support staff, students and community members arrived at Chase Field on Thursday to march to the state capitol and rally in support of funding for public schools.
The rally will continue Friday, though with no march. It is unknown how long the teacher walkout will continue, causing over 800,000 students to participate in a mock snow day. Many schools have already announced they are preparing to add extra school days to the end of the semester to make up for the lost days.
“I think a lot of teachers are prepared,” Amber Gould, high school teacher and president of the Glendale Union Education Association, says. “I know that we have had a lot of conversation and teachers were informed about possible discipline all the way to not receiving a paycheck. This is stuff we knew about in advance. We knew the risk we were taking. The risks are worth it because our students are worth it.”
Governor Doug Ducey met with about a dozen teachers, none of whom were on the appointed negotiations team for the teachers. Gould says it is important that he’s listening to educators, but he’s avoiding the ones that teachers have collectively asked to speak with him.
Gould emphasizes that the walkout isn’t just for higher teacher salaries. She says that they won’t quit until his plan includes methods of increasing pay for the support staff and putting more money into the classrooms for new resources.
“We’re not here for him to just buy us out as teachers,” Gould says.
Ducey’s three year plan to get the teachers a 20 percent raise is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough, Gould says. He needs to provide a sustainable way to give teachers the increase, raise salaries for support staff and return the one billion dollars that were taken from public education due to the recession. Not until then will the rally stop, she says.