Arizona parents, teachers rally for more public education funding

Posted at 4:25 PM, Jan 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-08 22:53:30-05

Many kids are gearing up to head back to the classrooms after their holiday break, and now Arizona lawmakers are gearing up to go back to the Arizona State Capitol — to talk about schools.

Monday marks the start of the new legislative session in our state. Governor Doug Ducey is also set to make his 2017 State of the State address. 

But, on Sunday, parents and educators decided they could not wait to make their voices heard. 

They decided to rally in front of Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake's offices Sunday afternoon near 24th Street and Camelback Road. They're hoping the two will support them in opposing President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. 

"The answer isn't bigger government," said DeVos at a Donald Trump rally last month. "The answer is local control. It's listening to parents and it's giving more choices."

But, if you were to listen to these parents and teachers rallying, you would know their choice would not be DeVos as they chanted, "Not My SOE," and "DeVos is not my boss" as cars passed by — some honking along. 

"He [Trump] needs to have someone as secretary of education who actually has an education background; who actually has an education background and who supports public schools and has a track record of that," Theresa Ratti said. Ratti has spent nearly 30 years teaching at Mesa Public Schools. 

Devon does have an education background, but mostly in charter schools. It is that career that is making her a controversial choice according to many in the education community.

"Any kind of private interest can dilute that message — that everybody needs to be educated in an equitable way," explained Steve Ramos, with Arizona Education Association-Retired. 

But, along with their national opposition, those rallying locally want the legislatures to know, they want more funding and focus on public education.

"We continue to have a governor that says, 'No, we aren't going to raise taxes,' and Arizona voters have said, 'We'll do that. We want to do that for our students,'" Ratti said.

Those who came out tell ABC15, they will be paying close attention this legislative session.

"To see large numbers here on a Sunday; supporting public education - tells me that things are changing in Arizona," Ramos said.