A year ago, Arizona teachers went on a six-day strike for higher pay and additional funding for their students and communities. As the headlines slow down, we take a look at where things stand.
Are protests still happening?
Things haven’t stopped since #RedForEd began. Since February 2018, there have been strikes across the United States, including West Virginia, Oklahoma, Los Angeles, Denver, Oakland, and many more. In Kentucky, teachers recently staged a “sick out” to protest pension reforms.
Nationwide, teacher demands are similar and revolve around a central theme: their and their students’ best interests. This includes pay raises, smaller class sizes, and health and education benefits for continuing education students.
Has anything in Arizona changed since February 2018?
Communication between Arizona educators and the state legislature has increased, as have demonstrations and teach-ins around the state. Awareness of educators’ working conditions and the challenges they face has grown. Across Arizona, the public is coming to understand that students and educators deserve more.
What happened in the midterm elections that I should know about?
Kathy Hoffman, the superintendent of public instruction, was inaugurated in January. She campaigned on a platform that demanded changes for Arizona’s education department. As superintendent, she’s fighting for improved educator pay and benefits and improvements to school funding and classroom resources.
What can I do?
Get civically engaged! Every single person can make a difference in the community by learning about the policies, regulations, and statutes that impact the educational system. Legislators listen to constituents who use their voices. You can send letters, write emails, make phone calls, and visit the legislature yourself. Find out who your representatives are and let them know where you stand. Don’t know who your representatives are? Find them here.
You can also consider running for political office. A record number of educators ran for various positions on local school boards, and even at the state level — and many of them won. Many of them were also first-time candidates, with little political experience, but they didn’t let that stop them.
The 75,000 educators who participated in #RedForEd last year set off a series of positive changes to Arizona’s educational system. The aftereffects of their actions serve as a reminder of how vital teacher voices are, and encourage all Arizona educators to become participants in civic discourse.