Teachers in the US states of Arizona and Colorado left their classrooms on Thursday to call for better pay and increases in public school funding.
Tens of thousands of educators marched through the streets of Arizona capital Phoenix, demanding legislators fix a number of issues, including educator salaries and classrooms with more than 30 students per teacher.
In an April 19 poll by the Arizona Education Association (AEA) and grassroots organising group Arizona Educators United, 78 percent of 57,000 educators voted in support of the walkout. It is the first in the state’s history.
Meanwhile, teachers in Colorado also protested on Thursday, resulting in the closure of several school districts, according to local media.
Schools across the US have seen their budgets slashed since the economic downturn of 2007, known as the ‘Great Recession’.
The protests in Arizona and Colorado follow similar demonstrations in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
Decreased budgets not only lowered teacher salaries but also cut funding for school programmes and supplies.
Teachers have been known to work multiple jobs and pay for teaching supplies out of their own pockets.
Educators agreed to the Arizona walkout after state governor Doug Ducey backed a plan to raise their salaries 20 percent by 2020.
Those protesting said they want their state governments to address the lack of funding across all sections of US education for the sake of the students.
Still, there are questions over where Arizona will find the money in its budget to pay for the reforms.
AEA president Joe Thomas told reporters on Thursday he doesn’t expect an early end to the walkout.
Teachers in Colorado will hold another “Day of Action” on Friday, including a march to the capital and showing of their graded papers to demonstrate how “much work educators do outside of the school day,” according to the Colorado Education Association.
In Colorado, legislators from both parties have agreed to give schools the largest budget increase since the Great Recession, but teachers say it isn’t enough. They also see a clear source of education funding.
Colorado legalised the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. The move was a boon to Colorado’s tax income.
In 2014, the first year both medical and recreational marijuana were legally available, sales reached $700m.
The 2012 bill committed to delivering millions of tax dollars to the state’s public education budget, though educators say it has not been enough. Colorado schools say they need $18bn to cover costs through 2018.
Source: Al jazeera News