Teachers protest Arizona chamber over Invest in Ed being off ballot

Sep 5, 2018, 9:16 PM | Updated: 9:18 pm

PHOENIX — Dozens of teachers and supporters protested Wednesday evening outside of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s office in Phoenix over its role in keeping the Invest in Ed initiative off the November ballot.

“We’re angry that they funded the lawsuit that got Invest in Ed taken off the ballot,” said Brian Hendricks, fourth-grade teacher at Solano Elementary School in Phoenix.

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court barred the ballot initiative seeking to raise income taxes on the wealthy to generate money for public schools from appearing on the November ballot. The court found that the measure’s description of the change in tax rates created confusion.

The order by the court came after supporters gathered enough petition signatures to get the measure on the ballot. But the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry kept pushing for a lawsuit to bar that from happening.

The Chamber argued the initiative was poorly crafted and would have harmed taxpayers and small businesses.

Alexis Aguirre, second-grade teacher at Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix, said the initiative would have raised an estimated $690 million for schools every year. While protesting on Wednesday, she questioned why the Chamber “would work so hard to kill the hope that we had to fully fund our schools.”

“We’re not going to see that investment that was going to happen for our kids,” Aguirre said.

She added the focus for her and other teachers was now on the November elections.

“We’re going to make sure that people are registered to vote and that they understand who is pro-education and who has consistently blocked every effort we have made to get funding into our schools,” Aguirre said.

Hendricks echoed that, saying he and other teachers are focused on getting pro-education candidates elected.

“Whichever candidates want to get behind public education, we’re going to support them,” he said, adding that he’ll be knocking on doors on Saturday registering people to vote and encouraging voters to support candidates who support public schools.

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Teachers protest Arizona chamber over Invest in Ed being off ballot