Teachers in Arizona, Colorado walk out for more school money

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Arizona teachers will wear red and head to the Capitol to demand more education funding.

Thousands of teachers and #RedforEd supporters are expected to march starting at Chase Field and ending at the State Capitol. They plan to march and rally again from 1 to 3 p.m.

Gov. Doug Ducey is standing by his initial proposal to raise teacher pay, confident it will pass through the Arizona Legislature, despite educators saying it doesn't go far enough.

While thousands of educators descend on the Arizona Capitol this week in protest, students will be cared for by friends, family or community organizations. "Now I'm going through the legislative process to get that done". "But the ball's in the governor's court and it has been over a month". See the pictures of torn carpeting, broken desks and moldy restrooms and tell me how giving the classroom teacher a 20-percent raise will fix those problems; the "raise" money would come from the "fixing" money. They also want competitive pay for educational support staff and restoration of education funding to 2008 levels.

To parents, I understand the pain and pressure caused by today's strike.

Lawmakers say local school districts, through contracts negotiated with teacher associations, are mostly responsible for setting teacher pay and benefits, not the state. "Our hope is that the teachers who choose to walk out on their children will return to their classrooms, so that students can learn and complete their school year". We have been hard at work with House leadership and the Governor in finalizing a state budget that includes these priorities. "And I've assured the Board this morning, we will investigate anything that comes".

The political environment in Colorado is fundamentally different from those in the previous states - West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona - with major teacher protests and strikes this year.

Hundreds of Colorado teachers are marching around the state Capitol in Denver.

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The leader of the state's largest teacher membership group told Phoenix television station KTVK that Ducey's unwillingness to meet with organizers makes him believe they "will be out for a while".

Colorado now falls drastically short of funding its schools, by about $822 million annually, according to The Denver Post.

Lawmakers have agreed to give schools their largest budget increase in a decade, but teachers say it's not enough, that it hasn't made up ground lost during the Great Recession and because of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights that limits spending.

But these solutions are not sustainable, teachers argue.

Colorado's average teacher salary ranks 31st in the country, according to the National Education Association.

Lawmakers must also commit to reducing or freezing corporate tax breaks of all kinds until school funding is restored and per-pupil funding reaches the national average, the CEA said.

During Thursday's rally, 9NEWS spoke to one fourth-year teacher who declined to be named, but who said she is considering leaving her teaching career to be an engineer because she just can't afford rent or to pay her student loans.

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, Colorado Springs School District 11, Falcon School District 49, Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 and Manitou Springs School District 14 are among the many statewide that will not have classes on Friday.

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