April 26 (UPI) — Classes were canceled Thursday for thousands of students in Arizona and Colorado, as their teachers walked out to rally for more school resources.
The new rallies follow the national #RedForEd activism that began in West Virginia last month, and was followed by striking educators in Kentucky and Oklahoma.
The #RedForEd movement calls for greater pay and more money to repair schools and update class materials.
In Arizona, 102 school districts were closed Thursday, impacting about 840,000 students. Closures in Colorado affected more than 600,000 students.
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, said teachers are striking because they have so little to lose after years of growing inflation and class sizes, while their pay has remained stagnant.
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Between 2008 and 2015, per-pupil funding in Arizona was cut 37 percent — more than any other state — and has led to lower salaries, disrepair at school buildings and the elimination of some kindergarten classes.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had agreed to give teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020, but the proposal was turned down by teachers who decided to campaign for more.
Colorado teachers are also asking for more school money, higher pay and protection for retirement benefits. The rising cost of housing is another issue.
“Too many educators can’t afford to live in the communities where they teach,” the Colorado Education Association said. “During the same time frame, corporations in Colorado have received over $1.6 billion in tax breaks, while every year, educators are asked to do more with less.”
Colorado legislators planned to invest an additional $425 million in education, but teachers say that’s not enough to make up for years of cuts.