50,000 AZ teachers & supporters march, rally in historic strike

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Tens of thousands march in the Red for Ed march. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP) Tens of thousands march in the Red for Ed march. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5/AP)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Some 50,000 Arizona teachers and supporters marched to the state Capitol Thursday to demand more education funding during a historic statewide strike that closed most of the state’s public schools and built on an educator uprising that bubbled up in other parts of the U.S.

Crowds in red shirts filled the streets from the starting point at downtown Phoenix’s baseball park and broke into chants of “Red for Ed” as they marched en masse to the Capitol.

Many marchers carried #RedforEd signs or posters saying, “Fund our future” and “Ducey, you’re out of your element,” referring to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Besides a 20 percent raise that Ducey has offered by 2020, teachers want lawmakers to increase school funding and give support staffers higher wages.

“I feel like funding for the schools should be at the top of the list,” said Brandon Hartley, a charter school teacher from Peoria who brought his 7-year-old son to the rally at the Arizona Capitol.

Other parents who brought their children to the Phoenix protest expressed their support despite school closures that led makeshift day care operations to open at schools and recreation centers to help working parents. Food banks and some schools also were providing free meals that many students rely on.

Mariaelena Sandoval brought her 11-year-old daughter and held a sign that said, “I’m a Republican, I’m voting and I’m #RedforEd.” She said she had a “wake-up call” for school funding when she learned about a teacher paying out of pocket for a field trip.

“I’m walking for her,” Sandoval said of her daughter.

The crowd marched 2 miles to the Capitol, where they gathered for a rally and listened to brief speeches.

Around 2 p.m., as temperatures soared into the 90s, demonstrators began to stream out of the Arizona Capitol.

Firefighters said there were about 20 medical, non-traumatic incidents with about five being heat-related.

[SLIDESHOW: Tens of thousands of teachers march for pay raise]

The leader of the state’s largest teacher membership group said the goal of the march is to get lawmakers and the governor to restore funding to pre-recession levels, a boost of about $1 billion.

[RELATED: Governor to Arizonans: Tell your legislators to vote for proposed teacher pay raise]

[RELATED: Diane Douglas asking teachers to return to the classroom amid walkouts]

Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association said Ducey could help solve the issue but is playing politics.

Ducey is asking parents to push lawmakers to approve his plan for 20 percent teacher raises by 2020 and said he has no plans to meet with striking teachers and or address their other demands, including about $1 billion to return school funding to pre-Great Recession levels and increased pay for support staff.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona schools in crisis]

Teachers and some lawmakers say the proposal relies on rosy revenue projections. A key legislative leader says a budget deal that could provide money for teachers is likely still at least several days away as lawmakers work out issues over how Ducey’s plan will be structured.

Meanwhile, the transit agency for metro Phoenix has reported 25-minute delays of light rail trains because of large crowds of teachers and supporters traveling to a protest in downtown Phoenix.

Educators in Colorado also walked off the job Thursday in a push for more resources.

School districts across Arizona have closed, including the state’s largest three. Teachers also protested on both sides of the state. South in Tucson, they waved signs on sidewalks and corners at a downtown intersection, while up north, protesters marched to Flagstaff City Hall and others gathered on the Navajo reservation.? The walkout led makeshift daycare centers to open for parents who have no place to leave their children when they go to work.

[RELATED: Arizona school districts release plans for teacher walkout]

The city of Phoenix estimates 150 children have been registered for drop-in programs the rest of the week at two dozen recreational facilities in response to teacher walkouts.

Nearly 40 children were doing puzzles, coloring and playing dodgeball Thursday at the Longview Neighborhood Recreation Center in central Phoenix.

[READ MORE: Where to take your child during teacher walkouts]

Addie Martinez dropped off her 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter at a Phoenix Salvation Army that has opened a child care center before she rushed to her job as a medical assistant. The facility has room for up to 100 kids and will provide breakfast, lunch and snacks for $25 per child.

Martinez said she supports the teachers despite the inconvenience because “they are educating our future.” She said she was prepared to take her children back Friday and next week to the center, which offers activities that include arts and crafts and dodgeball.

Meantime, in northern Arizona, about 50 people gathered near a high school on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation, wearing red shirts and holding signs in support of increasing funding for teachers and schools.

Teachers, parents and some students from Monument Valley High School on the Navajo reservation picked up trash Thursday because some students planning to do it for Earth Day were out of school.

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