Many Apache Junction schools were closed on Thursday, April 26 when local educators and school support staff walked off the job to protest continued statewide cuts to public education.
The coordinated effort was a signal to legislators that the education community is a formidable voting block, dedicated to working for a change.
All of the schools in the Apache Junction Unified School District (AJUSD), as well as Imagine Prep Superstition, were closed because of the staff shortage.
Apache Trail High School and Avalon Elementary Charter School remained open for their regular classes.
Under the banner #RedforEd, teachers, parents and community allies are working together to raise teachers salaries 20%; raise education support staff pay to be regionally competitive; establish a certified salary structure with annual raises; restore education funding to 2008 levels and stop state initiated tax cuts until per pupil funding reaches the national average.
Teachers and supporters were out on Apache Trail on Thursday wearing red and waving at passing traffic with signs. Also, many attended an information rally at the Multi-Generational Center.
In Phoenix, a downtown march from Chase Field was attended by an estimated 50,000 supporters who stayed for a rally at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza outside the Capitol.
Governor Doug Ducey has proposed a budget that includes a 9% salary increase for teachers and $100 million for school funding, including support staff.
As of press time, his proposal has been discussed by the Arizona Senate, but they have adjourned until Monday. The House has yet to consider the budget, and no deal was made.
The walkout by the teachers does not have an end date and could last until there is a satisfactory agreement between the legislators and the educators.
Photo above: Under the banner #RedforEd, teachers, parents and community allies called attention to Arizona schools’ needs last week with a walk-out on April 26. Colleagues lined up along Apache Trail to urge state legislators to fund raises and resources.