/ Modified apr 27, 2018 3:58 p.m.

Historic Walkout; #RedforEd and Charters; Border Agent Acquitted

And former state treasurer Dean Martin explains the sustainability of the governor's teacher pay raise plan.

This week, an estimated more than 50,000 teachers and #RedForEd movement supporters rallied at the state Capitol in downtown Phoenix. The march included parents, children and educators all wearing red to raise awareness of the $1.5 billion cut from school funding in Arizona since 2008.

The grassroots group Arizona Educators United and the teacher groupArizona Educators Association led the protests. The groups have rejected Gov. Doug Ducey's proposal to raise teacher salaries by 19 percent over the next three school years because they say it doesn't address all of their demands.

Arizona 360 discussed this week's teacher walkout with the president of the Tucson Education Association, Jason Freed. Freed spoke to host Lorraine Rivera about educators' demands and how this walkout would affect Southern Arizona schools.

"What we should be seeing is a budget, a full budget," Freed said. He said he hopes that educators will be a part of the discussion to find a sustainable funding mechanism.

At a news conference this week, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said the district decided to cancel classes Thursday after more than half of the district's 3,200 teachers said they would not come to work.

"We very clearly see thousands of employees operating within district protocol … using all appropriate time procedures to take one day of sick or personal and by doing that they're honoring their contract," Trujillo said.

Lorraine Rivera asked Trujillo about TUSD's contingency plan and how a prolonged walkout could affect the rest of the school year.

Although traditional, public school teachers have largely driven the #RedForEd movement, charter school teachers in Southern Arizona have been vocal as well. For more insight into their role, Arizona 360 turned to Charlene Mendoza, principal of the Arizona College Prep Academy in Tucson.

While charter school teachers are not a part of the teacher's union, they still have a collective will to change in teacher salaries in the state, Mendoza said.

"This has been a problem for years. We can't afford to not take care of this."

The governor's office says that more than 80 percent of the funding for teacher pay increases will come from state revenues. The same day teachers walked out, Ducey stood by his proposal and urged the Legislature to act.

Arizona 360 asked former Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin about the sustainability of the funding sources for the governor's plan. Martin said in addition to new dollars, it requires a change in how the state and districts allocate those funds.

"Think about priorities beyond doing more. It's how we can do better," said Martin.

This week, jurors in the federal trial of Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz acquitted him of second-degree murder for the shooting death of a teenager in Mexico.

Swartz fired through the international border fence, killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez in Nogales, Sonora, in 2012.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Perla Trevizo and Tucson Sentinel reporter Paul Ingram joined Lorraine Rivera to discuss arguments made inside the courtroom and where the case could go next. Jurors were undecided on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter, giving prosecutors an opportunity to pursue another trial on those charges.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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