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Former Gov. Brewer: This is ‘golden opportunity’ to get education right

(AP Photos/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Jan Brewer, Former Arizona Governor

PHOENIX — Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer changed her tone over the teacher walkout on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos on Thursday.

“This is going to be a historic day in Arizona, whether it’s good or bad, it will be always remembered,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime.”

On March 21, Brewer said she didn’t think a strike should happen.

“I don’t believe public employees — whether they be teachers or police officers or firemen — ought to strike,” she said then.

While Brewer didn’t directly advocate support for the strike on Thursday, she spoke in awe of the amount of people from different organizations who showed up to support the teachers.

“It’s amazing that it was put together and that people showed up,” she said. “Now we’ve got everybody involved – the churches that are taking care of their kids, the nonprofit organizations that are feeding them, the business community that is out there applauding them as they go by. They have gained an enormous amount of support.”

More than 50,000 Red for Ed supporters marched at the capitol on Thursday, the first day several school districts around the Valley were closed for the walkout.

Teachers and supporters were marching for higher pay and more school funding for supplies and support staff.

They marched 2 miles in red shirts, banging drums and chanting.

Brewer criticized the legislators and Gov. Doug Ducey for not seeing eye-to-eye and writing out a bill. Ducey proposed a 20 percent pay raise by the year 2020, but no formal proposal was written.

No special session is set for the weekend, which Brewer also criticized.

“When they left me walking away in a similar situation, I issued an emergency session, I called them right back … (if) they don’t come back, you send DPS after them,” she said.

She later clarified that she never had to send the Department of Public Safety after legislators to bring them back into public sessions. They would return, though not happily.

People on both sides will only get angrier if they allow it to drag out, Brewer said.

“Like everybody, we want a good education system. It just doesn’t seem as though we can ever get our arms around it and do it right,” she said. “This is our golden opportunity to step up, come and get a plan and get it finished with.”

As for Ducey’s proposal for the raise, Brewer said she has “no gut feeling” about its feasibility.

“If there’s not a permanent revenue source, I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” she said. “It’s beyond my comprehension.”

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