Teachers Who Went On Strike In 2018 Still See Needs In Arizona Classrooms

By Mariana Dale
Published: Friday, April 26, 2019 - 2:56pm
Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 9:48pm

Chico Robinson and Kelley Fisher broadcast on Facebook Live
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
Chico Robinson and Kelley Fisher broadcast on live on Facebook from Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in downtown Phoenix.

As Arizona legislators work on the state budget, teachers are starting to organize to raise awareness about outstanding needs in schools.

Phoenix 7th grade teacher Chico Robinson helped lead an informal meeting of educators at a downtown Phoenix brewery last week. Most wore red t-shirts.

“We are the champions for our students,” the Fowler district teacher reminded the group.  

Robinson encouraged teachers to contact their local legislators.

Mesa teacher Lupita Almanza
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
"My top priority right now...is more counselors," said.Mesa teacher Lupita Almanza."There are certain things I can do as a teacher to build their minds, but I don't have the skills or resources to fix other things that impact student learning."

Mesa 2nd grade teacher Lupita Almanza says students in her Title 1 school need more socio-emotional support.

“It all impacts their learning because if they’re hungry, if their mom and dad had a big fight and they’re upset about that it’s hard for them to concentrate on learning,” Almanza said.  

Her school shares a a counselor with another elementary. The governor’s budget includes money for counselors and Mesa Public Schools plans to add about 35 new counselors or social workers next year. The district also faces a projected $11.8 million budget deficit next year without a new override.

Maria Leyva
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
"I think in Arizona we can do a lot better for our students," said Spanish teacher Maria Leyva.

Maria Leyva teaches Spanish and leads the Deer Valley Education Association. The Deer Valley Unified School District reports the average high school class size is almost 27 kids, but she has seen colleagues temporarily have as many as 37 students in a class.

“The teaching crisis is real,” Leyva said. “We have full-time subs, emergency certified people, contracted people from outside the district, it’s hitting the more affluent areas.”

The West Valley district, like many in the state, is short special education teachers. There are more than 300 open jobs in the district for teachers and support staff.

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