14:52 GMT +322 May 2018
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    Thousands participate in a protest at the Arizona Capitol for higher teacher pay and school funding on the first day of a state-wide teachers strike Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Phoenix.

    ‘They're Fed Up, They're Done': Arizona Teachers March, Demand Increased Funding

    © AP Photo/ Ross D. Franklin
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    Roughly 50,000 teachers and supporters in Arizona marched to the state capitol in Phoenix on Thursday to demand an increase in state education funding during a statewide strike that shuttered schools.

    Images from the march paint a sea of red as teachers sported red shirts and signs that read #RedForEd and "Fund Our Future."

    ​Speaking to Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear, Nathalie Hrizi, a teacher, librarian and a teachers union organizer, said teachers in the state are simply organizing with the hope to create a better future for public education.

    "The teachers are organizing, they're rallying, they're demanding increased public funding and increased raises but they're also taking care of business," Hrizi told show hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "A lot of the critics of the walkout and the actions that have been taking place are saying that the teachers aren't really taking care of the students and the school and they're doing this for the students and the schools… [but] they care, they're working with supporting organizations to make sure students are being taken care of."

    "They're doing this for the kids' future and for the future of public education. It's really an incredible display of labor organizing and teacher solidarity in the fight for public education… they're fed up, they're done with the situation… that's been bubbling over the last decade," Hrizi urged.

    Though Democrats might use the movement as a means to pick up congressional seats in the 2018 midterm elections this November, the organizer pointed out that "they've been part and parcel in creating the situation that we're facing right now."

    "I think that the situation for public education in the states that people are really organizing… is a result of this complete [nationwide] attack on public education," Hrizi told Becker. "The Bush administration had its approach, which was ‘No Child Left Behind'… and then the Obama administration called it the ‘Race to the Top' and both of these programs, although they had very different characteristics and were from a Republican and a Democratic administration, both of them had the same goal… and its been the goal of an education ‘reform' movement to undermine public education, to undermine the teachers unions… to remove funds from public education and to privatize it in the forms of charter schools."

    "It really comes down to removing the access to education for the public… and that has left us in the situation where we have schools under the kinds of condition… where books are 40 years old and they're moldy and destroyed and teachers are taking home $300 a week and still using a part of that to buy supplies to make sure that their students get an education. This isn't the result of some Republican scheme, this is across both capitalist parties. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have undertaken this," she stressed.

    With the majority of the teachers joining the strike being fairly young, Hrizi indicated that "their leadership is really what's going to change the face of public education and make it possible for us to fight to save it."

    But when it comes to whether or not Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey will concede to the demands, which also include a raise for instructors, Hrizi believes that only time will tell.

    "I think [Ducey is] really feeling the pressure… I think they're all feeling the pressure. ThIs is a huge thing for Arizona teachers and they actually have a lot of support despite attempts to undermine that support and demonize them… we'll have to see how it plays out," she concluded.

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