PHOENIX — Thousands of Arizona teachers wearing red shirts and carrying signs protested outside more than a thousand schools Wednesday, demanding higher salaries and better school funding.
The “walk-ins” were held before classes and were organized by a grassroots movement pushing for a 20 percent raise and more than $1 billion in new education funding. Arizona’s demonstration is part of a wave of educators in Republican-majority states demanding higher pay. West Virginia teachers were the first to go on strike and won a 5 percent raise. Oklahoma’s two largest school districts have been closed for nearly two weeks because of a teacher strike and Kentucky educators called in sick to protest pension reform.
Wednesday’s walk-ins were held at 1,112 schools spanning 130 districts in Arizona, according to Arizona Educators United. The state Department of Education says that Arizona has 1,700 traditional public schools and more than 500 charter schools.
Outside Pueblo Elementary School in Scottsdale, Arizona, dozens of red-clad teachers, students and parents gathered.
“I really feel very strongly that public education is ground zero right now in our fight for democracy,” said Karen Gifford, whose child attends Pueblo Elementary. “I know too many teachers who work second and third jobs just to support their families.”