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Protestors Rally in Flagstaff on First Day of Teacher’s Strike

Ryan Heinsius

Several hundred people marched to the Flagstaff City Hall today on the first day of a statewide teacher’s strike in support of higher teacher wages and school funding. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Cars honked in support of the protestors as they marched in downtown Flagstaff, wearing red shirts and carrying signs. Sheila White, a teacher at Marshall Elementary, is one of the event’s organizers. She says she’s doing this for Arizona’s schoolkids, "because they deserve better. They deserve teachers that aren’t burnt out from working two jobs, they deserve a desk for every student and not 28-30 kids in a class."

Credit Ryan Heinsius

White says she wants education funding levels to be restored to what they were 10 years ago.

Governor Doug Ducey released a statement today urging Arizonans to support of his plan for 20 percent teacher raises by 2020. But organizers of the strike rejected that proposal, saying its funding is unsustainable and it ignores other problems in the school system.

Joe Rauschenbach is a music teacher at Knoles Elementary. He says, "We need the supplies, we need the desks, we need the textbooks, we need to be able to educate effectively. If this is what it takes, then we need to be out here for the next generation. We’re here for the kids. That’s what this is all about."

At least 100 school districts and charter schools closed today in Arizona. Teachers also went on strike in Colorado, following similar protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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