by David Safier
Jesús de la Garza, superintendent of the Chinle Unified School District, drove nearly six hours to attend the protest. He said hacking at public education funding to balance the budget is not in the best interest of the state.
"Hopefully we don't have to do this every year, every month," said de la Garza of the protest. "But we will if we have to. Full-day kindergarten impacts every school district in the state. That's a critical time of development. We know the difference. The benefits are evident."
Florence Unified School District Superintendent Gary Nine, a leader of the protest, thanked the crowd for giving up their Sunday afternoon for their children, their students.
"Slashing education is something that history has already proved is a mistake," said Nine. "I've never carried a sign. I've never protested. But we are wide awake and we are a force to reckon with."
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Apache Junction, said the protest was one of the largest crowds she's seen on the Capitol Mall. She encouraged the crowd to keep the pressure on their elected officials.
"Protests like this can make the difference," said Rios. "This speaks to the fact that people are concerned and are not going to sit still. They need to write or call their specific legislators and the governor and ask them how they're going to vote."