More than 300 people gathered for a town hall meeting in Mesa Monday night to discuss the ongoing teacher walkout and what happens next.
The event, organized by teachers in Mesa Public Schools, gave educators a chance to make their pitch for improved education funding directly to parents. It also gave parents a chance to ask questions of their own, including why teachers felt the need to continue the work stoppage.
The grassroots group leading the Red for Ed movement, Arizona Educators United, announced plans to continue the walkout for at least the next two days as the state Legislature works on a budget plan.
"We closed the schools. We got the attention that we need. Now let's get back to school and let the Legislature do their job," said Kari Handley, a parent of six in MPS.
"I don't think we need to keep our schools closed to have it happen," she added.
Educators at the town hall described the walkout as a last resort and a necessary evil brought on by years of steady funding cuts. They linked Arizona's education funding to low graduation rates, which they said contributes to the state's incarceration rate -- the sixth highest in the nation.
Teachers shared stories of classrooms packed with more than 40 students, improvised school supplies, faulty emergency equipment and educators fleeing the profession for higher paying jobs at places like Costco.
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Handley was among a handful of parents who expressed concern the walkout could force districts to add school days and disrupt summer plans.
The superintendent of Cave Creek Unified told Arizona's Family the district will add two school days in May to make up for lost time last week. However, an MPS governing board member at Monday's town hall said the district would not need to add extra days for elementary and middle school students if classes resumed by Thursday.
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