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Wed, Oct. 23

Teachers across the state are taking a stand during the Arizona Day of Action for pay increases

Susan Collins, music teacher at Manzanita Elementary School

Susan Collins, music teacher at Manzanita Elementary School

Teachers across the state of Arizona have joined forces to stand up to Gov. Doug Ducey and have their voices heard about pay increases. Here in Kingman, teachers have also rallied together to voice their opinions.

Organizations involved in the Arizona Day of Action include Kingman Progressive Alliance for Positive Change, Save Our Schools Arizona and Arizona State PTA.

Susan Collins, a music teacher at Manzanita Elementary School, is spearheading the local Arizona Day of Action event.

“There’s been a lot of frustration statewide over the teaching conditions, classroom sizes, compensation, and health care costs,” Collins said. “Teachers are well-licensed professionals, and we’re barely making above minimum wage.”

Kindergarten classrooms at Manzanita Elementary have about 25 to 30 students, and fourth- and fifth-grade classes have about 35 to 40. Due to the capacity of the classrooms, teachers can’t develop those relationships with their students they need for academic and emotional success, Collins said.

According to a recent article by the Associated Press, teachers in Arizona are one of the lowest paid teachers, ranking 49th in the nation for high school teachers and 50th for elementary school teachers.

Dana Kunert, an eighth-grade teacher at White Cliffs Middle School, is also involved in the Kingman Arizona Day of Action.

“We have high turnover rates because new teachers will come and get their experience here and then leave us for higher paid positions in other states,” Kunert said.

Throughout the state there are 2,000 open teacher positions needing to be filled. With the lack of teachers, many of the positions are filled with long-term substitute teachers.

“My son has had two long-term substitutes as his teachers. He’s not getting the feedback he would normally get in those two classrooms,” Kunert said.

Arizona State PTA has been around for 112 years and its mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families, and get communities to advocate for every child, said Beth Simek, president of Arizona PTA.

“Our children deserve a world-class education,” Simek said. “They won’t get it if teachers keep leaving the profession in Arizona.”

The Arizona PTA is assisting Arizona Educators United by engaging and empowering parents in the community across Arizona to speak up for our teachers, Simek said.

“Our board (KUSD) and our administration is doing everything they possibly can, but they are limited by the funds they get from the state,” Collins said.

Educators are going to wear red Wednesday and gather from 4-7 p.m. in the Safeway parking lot, 3125 Stockton Hill Road, with signs promoting strong education.

This is a grassroots event based off the larger event happening in Phoenix where people are going to rally at the capitol. Other cities around the state including Prescott, Show Low, and White Mountains-Lakeside, are joining in the Arizona Day of Action.

Collins said this event is not about anything the KUSD school board is not doing, it’s about the state legislature.

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