Arizona Educators Plan to March on the Capitol Later This Month

Teachers are planning to build on the #RedForEd campaign, right, with a march later this month.
Teachers are planning to build on the #RedForEd campaign, right, with a march later this month. TofflerAnn/flickr; Tucson Unified School District/Twitter.
Two grassroots campaigns fighting to change Arizona's dysfunctional education system will take to the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 28, building on the momentum of this week's #RedForEd campaign.

An organizing group of Arizona teachers came together after they watched the recent strike in West Virginia, where teachers walked out of their classrooms for nine days straight until the state legislature relented and passed a law giving all state employees a 5 percent raise on Tuesday.

click to enlarge SOS - ARIZONA
SOS - Arizona
These newly inspired Arizona teachers have organized into a group called Arizona Educators United. They encouraged teachers to wear red on Wednesday to protest the lack of a living wage.

The other group behind the March 28 event is Save Our Schools Arizona, an organization fighting the expansion of a school voucher law through the ballot process. SOS Arizona successfully forced the measure to a referendum in this fall's election.

On Friday, teachers shared on social media the reasons why their schools are in trouble. Low pay, the student-loan burden from degrees in education, a lack of qualified teachers, and a dearth of classroom resources came up frequently. Some educators wrote that they have to work two or even three jobs to support themselves on the basement salary that Arizona teachers receive.

On the huge Facebook group for Arizona Educators United where the grassroots efforts are happening, talk of a walkout or strike is everywhere. They're taking cues from West Virginia, where teachers in all 55 counties walked out as a unified front, frustrated with a 2 percent pay raise that the legislature recently passed as well as spiking premiums in the public-employee health care system.
Earlier this week, lots of teachers and school districts all over the state participated in #RedForEd on Wednesday, sharing photos of educators decked out in red attire. Politicians even joined in the campaign to wear red, with the exception of Governor Doug Ducey.

(His spokesperson told the Arizona Capitol Times that the governor didn't participate because it was a political endorsement event, apparently confusing #RedForEd with the Arizona Education Association's endorsement of David Garcia for governor, which took place on the same day.)

It's telling that this will be the second march for education in a matter of months. SOS Arizona recently held a march and rally at the State Capitol on January 6, generating huge turnout.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty