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Mass teacher walkouts shut public schools in US West



Teachers in multiple US states have walked out of public school classrooms to demand better pay and more education budget, the latest in a series of strikes by American educators.

Tens of thousands of teachers across Arizona prepared to walk out on Thursday despite threats that their teaching licenses would be revoked.

Seventy-eight percent of the state’s 57,000 teachers voted to embark on the strike, which will affect about 820,000 students at public schools.

The plan for the strike was announced last week and there is currently no clear sign of any resolution of their dispute with state legislators.

The decision for strike came after state educators rejected a proposal by Republican Governor Doug Ducey to give teachers a 20-percent pay raise.

The proposal would have still left Arizona teachers among the worst paid in the US.

Arizona teachers march through downtown Phoenix on their way to the State Capitol on April 26, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

“Governor Doug Ducey’s idea of taking money already designated for other worthy purposes is a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ scheme that is wrong and unacceptable,” said the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Arizona president, Ralph Quintana.

The governor has turned down a request for meeting with organizers.

Instead of cutting other state programs, the unions proposed that Arizona impose a 2.5-percent tax on financial and legal services that they estimate would generate $2.5 billion a year.

The unrest has also spread to Colorado, where an estimated 10,000 teachers planned to go to the state capitol to lobby for better pay and restoration of education funding cuts.

Organizers said they hoped the strike would send a message to state political leaders about their dissatisfaction with their conditions.

Union leaders have not indicated when they expect the protests to end, and Republican lawmakers say they do not plan to consider legislation to raise more revenue.

Kentucky Public school teachers protest outside the Kentucky House Chamber as they rally for a Day of Action outside the state capitol, April 13, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Similar job actions have been taken in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky in recent weeks.

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