Arizona Educators, Advocates Meet At Capitol To Demand More Funding For Public Education

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About 100 educators and education advocates gathered for a rally on the Capitol lawn Monday to demand more funding for Arizona’s public education system. The group also wants leaders in the House and Senate to schedule public hearings on the budget before it gets final approval.

In addition to marching and holding signs, attendees were also given a crash course on how to participate in the legislative process like how to request to speak at hearings and how to track a bill’s progress.

Julie Cieniawski, a teacher with the Scottsdale public-school system, said Presidents Day is one of the few opportunities she has to come down to the Capitol.

“To speak to people to have our voices heard,” Cieniawski said. “I’ve had lots of other expectations with my family. I’ve had two children go through public schools. My husband had the day off today, and this was more important to me.”

Before breaking up, the group walked into both the Arizona House and Senate buildings to deliver a set of postcards from parents and educators detailing why they’d like to see more money in the public education budget.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s initial budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 includes and additional $114 million for K-12 funding over last year. Included is a line item giving teachers a 2-percent raise over the next five years. The coalition of education advocates on the Capitol lawn Monday said while they welcome the additional spending, teacher salaries really need a 4-percent raise or more to begin turning around the state’s growing teacher shortage.

In response to Monday’s demonstration, Ducey spokesman Dan Scarpinato said this is a positive discussion to have.

“We want the public engaged in it,” he said. “One of the issues that we’re facing is that there’s a lot of priorities in education. One thing that the governor included in his budget is funding for all-day kindergarten in our low income schools.”

Scarpinato added the current allocation is the best Gov. Ducey can do with the resources the state has this year.

-Originally published by Carrie Jung, KJZZ on 2/20/17 at 4:18pm

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