The sea of red may be gone from the lawns of the State Capitol, but education leaders say their work is just beginning.
Teachers picked up petitions they will be circulating within their communities and neighborhoods, as they left the Capitol grounds Thursday. The next big move is to collect signatures for what they're calling the "Invest in Ed" initiative.
'I need you to get a petition. I need you to learn about the Invest in Ed act. I need you to see that our next stop is in November," said Arizona Education Leader President Joe Thomas to a large crowd of teachers gathered in front of the state Capitol.
"You're in the moment now, but you've got to look to the future, and that is the next big one," said Thomas.
Marisol Garcia, the Vice President of the Arizona Education Association said teachers were ready to go back to the classroom, they had all missed their children, but she hoped the community understood they took this drastic, and historic step for the children and their future.
Garcia said she expected a good turnout on the first day of the walk out, but when she got home and saw the aerial photos posted on social media, it was above anything she had imagined.
"I just wept. It was just such an amazing moment. Now we go back to our kids and find amazing and creative ways to welcome them back to class, but I want people to know this was the battle. We have a major war, but this was an awakening," said Garcia.
The "invest in ed" initiative would bring an estimated $689 Million annual investment in public education.
- Education association leaders said the funding would come from raising the income tax rate on the richest 1% of Arizonans.
- An increase of 3.46% on individual incomes over a quarter million dollars or household incomes over half a million dollars.
- An increase of 4.46% on individual incomes over half a million dollars or household incomes over $1 Million.
- The tax increase would not impact anyone making less than $250,000 annually.
Education leaders said this new tax revenue would be distributed to the Class Site Fund with over 60% of the money directed to the base pay pot for salaries.
They say 40% of the new revenue could be used for Education Support Professionals salaries, as well as for full-day kindergarten.
For more information on the initiative click HERE.