AZ Legislation takes big bite from education apple

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By Rogelio Macias

Thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Phoenix on Mar. 4 to show lawmakers that the education budget reform is vital to Arizona’s wellbeing. Parents, teachers, education support professionals, students and taxpayers converged on the Capitol to demonstrate the profound and strong support for the states public school systems, and their disagreement with the fiscal cuts being thrown at Arizona’s students.

The rally was organized by Arizona Education Association (AEA). AEA and fellow supporters conclude their daylong stay at the Capitol with a late-afternoon rally and march around the capitol building, which drew an estimated 2,500 protestors.

State legislators are considering $1 billion in cuts. With this large number staring teachers in the face it has them afraid of either losing their job or living that nightmare of possibly having 50 children per classroom.

The Legislature cut about $130 million from the K-12 public school system in January as part of reducing the $1.6 billion deficit to the $9.9 billion budget for that current fiscal year.

With additional budget cuts, Arizona communities are worried that their children are being forced to endure the front of this storm and the resulting damage will not be able to be undone.

“If we don’t start paying for our children’s futures and education now, in the end we’ll just be paying for them in prison,” cried Jo Stackhouse as the group of demonstrators circled the capitol, with the hopes that her words of passion and emotion would get through to legislators. Many of the demonstrations attendees shared these ideals. Without a quality education, it is feared, that many students will turn to alternative methods of life that will result in them making bad, uneducated, decision. Many of the education advocates had hopes that Governor

Brewer would come out and address the crowd with her thoughts on the subject, and defend her decision to place this weight on the schools shoulders. Brewer did not grace the crowd, but in her notes to lawmakers, she stated, “We cannot place all of the burden on our children and their schools.” The protestors got a sympathetic reaction, in particular from Democrats, who used the rally as a platform to drive their support for education and to penalize Republicans for passing January’s budget bill in education.