Teachers rally outside local state office in downtown Tucson

(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Teachers from across Tucson rallied Wednesday afternoon as part of the nationwide RedForEd movement that's sweeping across the country.

Educators gathered at Tucson High School, Safford K-8 and Davis Bilingual Elementary to march to the Arizona State Building near Congress and Granada.

Marea Jenness, one of the rally organizers, said some of their demands include better pay, affordable healthcare and more funding for their classrooms.

"This is one of my textbooks. It's older than my students are. I've been taping on the cover for years and years and the cover finally came off of this one. We've been doing the best we can with what we have for over a decade and it's time for the state to stop starving teachers," she said.

The biology teacher has been with Tucson High School for 16 years. She says their goal is to make sure legislators know they're fed up.

She said they'll continue to do demonstrations until things change. Recently, teachers in West Virginia and Kentucky went on strike.

Jenness said no strikes have officially been planned in Tucson, but she believes many teachers are prepared to walk out if they have to.

"I think we're ready to go as far as we need to go. We can't keep on dealing with garbage like this. I deserve more, and my students deserve more. If that means walking out then I believe that we're prepared to walk out," she said.

For now, Jenness is organizing a "walk-in" next week. Teachers will gather near Tucson High School and walk inside to show their unity.

Jason Freed, president of the Tucson Educators Association, said Wednesday that teachers want to make sure that parents and the public understand their frustration in this situation is directed at leadership in Phoenix, not local administrators.

"The state government is really forcing the hand of educators." he said.

Freed estimated the crowd Wednesday evening at almost a thousand people rallying on all four corners of the busy intersection in downtown Tucson. He said teachers have mentioned walkouts, but nothing has been organized at this point.

"Our goal is to get the governor and the state legislature to do what is right for education, so we don't go to those kinds of drastic measures," said Freed. "Educators do not want to engage in this. What educators want to do, is they want to do good things for our kids. They want to educate our kids."

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