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Educators stage strike for better pay in U.S. state of Arizona

Staff Writer |
Tens of thousands of American educators and their supporters marched through Phoenix, the capital city of the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona on Thursday, demanding higher pay and better funding in the state's first statewide teachers' strike.

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Wearing red T-shirts and waving signs reading "We support #Red for Ed," "Arizona students deserve better," protesters marched two miles (3.2 km) to the Capitol of the state.

Local police estimated that around 50,000 people participated in the event, but organizers said 75,000 people joined the rally. Hundreds of public schools in the state were shut down Thursday as a result.

A vote conducted by Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association last week showed that 78 percent of the 57,000 educators in Arizona favored a walkout.

"Educators don't want to walkout. We'd rather be in our classrooms and at our work sites. We do this because we are dedicated to our students and their futures," tweeted the National Education Association, the country's largest professional employee organization, showing support for the Arizona protesters.

Arizona governor Doug Ducey met with 10 educators in wake of the march. An Arizona lawmaker, David Livingston who leads the House Appropriations Committee of the state, said majority Republican leaders in the House have agreed to support Ducey's plan for a 20 percent raise of teachers' pay by 2020, a local news outlet, KTAR News reported.

But protesters are expected to return Friday morning, continuing to address their concern.

"We'll be back. We're not giving up. The #RedforEd Rally continues," tweeted the Arizona Education Association Thursday night.

Beginning with the state of West Virginia in February, American teachers have walked out in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona to demand better funding for education.

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