- Associated Press - Friday, April 27, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on teacher protests in Arizona and Colorado (all times local):

5 p.m.

Arizona education groups who have led an unprecedented teacher strike say they have no confidence a state budget deal announced by Gov. Doug Ducey meets the needs of schools.

Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association and teacher Noah Karvelis of the grassroots Arizona Educators United group said in a statement Friday that all they have is a news release and a tweet from Ducey.

They they’ve been let down before by the Republican governor.

Ducey says the budget deal he reached with Republican leaders of the Senate and House gives teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020 and adds another $100 million in new school funding for other uses.

The Legislature will see details early next week and could enact a budget in a few days.


3:45 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says he’s reached a deal with Republican leaders of the state Legislature that includes a 20 percent teacher raise by 2020, but the plan does not doesn’t address other demands of striking educators.

The Republican governor’s office announced the deal Friday afternoon, after striking teachers left the Capitol for the day.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato says the budget will fund the raise and an extra $100 million for schools districts the governor proposed in January as start to restoring recession-era cuts.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard says the plan is to work out remaining details over the weekend and move the budget early next week.

It’s unclear when educators would end a historic statewide walkout that began Thursday.


2:40 p.m.

A group of Arizona education advocates are pushing a ballot initiative to raise the income tax on high wage earners to fund public education.

The measure was filed at the Secretary of State’s office on Friday by organizers outside of the #RedforEd movement that’s mobilized a statewide teacher walkout.

The proposal would raise the income tax rate by 3.46 percent on individual incomes above $250,000 or household incomes higher than $500,000.

The rate would increase by 4.46 percent for individual income above $500,000 and household incomes above $1 million.

Sixty percent of the new funds would go toward teacher salaries. Forty percent would be added for all-day kindergarten and other uses.

The measure requires more than 150,000 signatures filed by July 5 to get on the ballot.


12:45 p.m.

Arizona educators are wrapping up the second day of state Capitol protests in a historic statewide teacher walkout.

The rally at the Capitol on Friday drew a crowd of many thousands, following the 50,000 who attended the previous day. They also announced plans for a possible ballot initiative to come up with a new funding stream for public education, but no formal plan is on the table.

Also on Friday, a separate group of education advocates say they’ll announce a ballot measure for education funding.

The walkout was called after Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a plan to raise salaries by 20 percent. Educators say the plan doesn’t go far enough.

Plans for Monday are in flux as educators decide their next step. Organizers have a permit to be at the Capitol if the walkout continues.


11:40 a.m.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he will help push for the state to pay back about $1 billion borrowed from education during the recession.

The governor spoke Friday to several thousand teachers gathered at a park near the state Capitol on the second straight day of demonstrations over pay for teachers.

He spoke for less than five minutes and didn’t offer any more funding than has already been proposed for next year.

Some teachers shouted over him, “We want more,” while others applauded him.


11 a.m.

Leaders of the state’s teacher association say they will push for a ballot initiative to boost school spending if the Arizona Legislature doesn’t provide a new dedicated funding stream.

Details of the plan to boost funding weren’t immediately released Friday but some kind of tax increase is probable. Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association says the ballot initiative push could begin soon.

Friday’s developments came on the second day of an unprecedented statewide teacher strike as several thousand educators and supporters gathered at the state Capitol in Phoenix to push for teacher raises and more school funding. The Capitol space has been reserved for Monday as well.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has refused to meet with their leaders and is sticking with a plan to boost teacher pay 20 percent by 2020 that doesn’t address other demands for more school funding.


10:25 p.m.

A lawyer for the Goldwater Institute has sent letters to school superintendents across Arizona threatening to sue if they don’t require striking teachers to return to work and re-open shuttered schools.

The letter sent Friday by the libertarian think tank tells school leaders that the strike is illegal and violates the state Constitution’s requirement that students be guaranteed an education.

Attorney Timothy Sandefur’s letter to superintendents says districts closed as part of “a coordinated plan to allow public school employees to refuse to report for duty or to discharge their contractual obligations.”

Schools districts enrolling the vast majority of the state’s 1.1 million public school students were closed for a second day Friday as teachers rallied at the Capitol for more funding after years of cuts.


9:17 a.m.

Several thousand Colorado teachers are marching to the state Capitol in Denver after rallying in a park across the street.

Friday’s demonstration is the second day of protests expected to draw a total of 10,000 teachers.

The tone Friday was more festive than the day before.

A jazz band warmed up the crowd by leading them in songs like “Marching on Freedom Land.” Teachers danced along, while others kept some beach balls bouncing over the crowd at Civic Center Park.

The band then joined teachers in a march to the Capitol, as drivers honked their car horns and police stopped traffic to let them cross the street.

Teachers in Arizona are also gathering for a second day Friday at their state Capitol.


9 a.m.

Thousands of striking teachers are gathering at the Arizona Capitol for a second day of rallies to pressure the governor and Legislature to boost school funding.

Friday’s protests come as Republican leaders of the House and Senate continue negotiating with GOP Gov. Doug Ducey on a budget plan he’s pushing to give teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020. The Legislature has adjourned until Monday.

Teachers want the 20 percent raise but also have four other demands, including raises for support staff, yearly teacher raises, a restoration of school funding to 2008 levels and no new tax cuts until the state per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

Mesa English teacher Kelly Grant says Ducey is not listening and teachers want him to sit down with the movement’s leaders to work out a deal.

So far he has refused.


7:22 a.m.

A major Phoenix-area school district that had planned to reopen its schools Monday despite a statewide teacher walkout over pay and education funding has announced that its schools instead will remain closed.

The Chandler Unified School District says its announcement Friday that schools will remain closed Monday is “based on the number of teachers who have reported their absence for Monday.”

The district previously said that it had polled staff and determined there would be enough teachers to re-open.

The Arizona walkout began Thursday with an estimated 50,000 teachers and supporters participating in a march and rally in Phoenix.


11:10 p.m.

Arizona and Colorado teachers plan to don red shirts and descend upon their respective Capitols for a second day in a growing educator uprising.

Educators in both states want more classroom resources and have received offers either for increased school funding or pay, but they say the money isn’t guaranteed and the efforts don’t go far enough. The walkouts are the latest in demonstrations that spread from West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

On the first day of the historic statewide walkout, around 50,000 educators and supporters marched Thursday through downtown Phoenix.

In much cooler Colorado, several thousand educators rallied around the Capitol, with many using personal time to attend two days of protests expected to draw as many as 10,000 demonstrators.

Organizers say the Arizona strike has no end date.

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