Red For Ed: Teachers To Walk Out Over Low Pay, Classroom Spending

Noah Karvelis, one of the Arizona Educators United organizers, said by not funding teachers, “we are throwing away an entire generation’s chance at academic success.” (Photo by Gabriella Bachara/Cronkite News)

By Chris McCrory

PHOENIX – Arizona educators overwhelmingly voted to walk out to demand higher pay, Red for Ed leaders announced Thursday night.

Speaking in front of the Phoenix headquarters of the Arizona Education Association, organizers from Arizona Educators United, one of the grassroots groups backing teachers, said 78 percent of the 57,000 voting educators supported the walkout.

The organizers cited 10 years of “drastically underfunded schools” that resulted in “overcrowded classrooms, crumbling infrastructure and low wages for educators.”

“After years of starving our schools, some classes are stuffed with kids, while others sit empty because there isn’t a teacher to teach,” association organizer and Littleton elementary school teacher Noah Karvelis said in a statement. “The #RedforED movement has provided educators the opportunity to voice what action they want to take in an historic statewide vote.”

Related Stories

• Arizona educators voting on whether to walk out for better pay, more classroom dollars
• #RedForEd: Teachers call in sick over low pay, protest state proposal on tax cuts for wealthy
• #RedForEd teachers protest low education funding in ‘walk-in’ demonstrations
• Ducey proposes 20% raise for teachers by 2020; Arizonans voice opinions on #RedForEd

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, teachers will continue hosting walk-in demonstrations at more than 1,100 schools. But on Thursday, many of those schools will shut their doors as a walkout begins.

Prior to the vote, Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Michael Cowen sent an email to teachers saying the district’s 64,000 students would be shut out of school until teachers return to their classrooms. Other districts will likely follow suit.

In his email, Cowen cautioned teachers to think about the difficult decision during the voting process, which lasted from Tuesday to Thursday.

“I encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of the impact of a walkout on our students, parents, staff and the community,” he said, adding that the public has shown support over the years for Mesa schools. “We have never lost a bond or override election. We need to be mindful of that support as decisions are made.”

Expect More Arizona, an education advocacy group, also released a statement Thursday night, saying the organization’s leaders were “saddened that our teachers feel so disrespected and unsupported that they have chosen to walk out.”

Thursday’s decision comes one week after Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a plan that would increase teacher salaries by 20 percent by 2020. Advocates said the plan would help teachers, but would not provide money for support staff, including counselors and janitors.

Ducey is holding firm on his proposal’s pledge to not increase taxes, instead relying on a strong state economy over the next three years to fund the pay increases. Some legislators have called his predictions optimistic.

The state Legislature would have to approve funding for the plan.

After Thursday’s vote, the Arizona Education Association called Ducey’s proposal “disingenuous” and said it wasn’t supported by actual funding.

Ducey responded to the announcement on Twitter, saying when teachers strike, “our kids are the ones who lose out.” The governor said he would continue to advocate for his proposal to increase teacher salaries.

Some educators said they were concerned about the lack of funding for support staff and for resources, such as new textbooks.

“Our kids deserve more spending per pupil so we can improve their education, get them up to date on the most modern technologies,” said Josh Rosenbaum, a reading instructor at Camelback High School. He said Ducey’s proposal “didn’t address all of our needs. Many teachers aren’t here for the 20 percent raise. They’re here for the students.”


  1. the schools were closed but yet free breakfast & lunch were still provided??? I am thinking THIS is exactly part of the problem. It’s school not daycare, not a shelter & not a church. Period. I understand there are struggling families. But this is why this has turned into a bloody mess. People who never should’ve had kids to begin with have 4 or 5 then expect ‘teachers’ & the school district to raise them, this continues, it will NEVER get better

  2. Teachers feel they are entitled to pay increases due to cost of living. Well guess what they are not the only ones. In the last 8 years I have worked for two different companies and may pay never increased did not even receive a cost of living raise. I’ve made the same pay for years only difference is you teachers have a much better retirement plan, you get summers off, fall breaks, winter breaks and spring breaks. So how many days a year do you actually work for the pay you get? I would have no complaints, reap the benefits!! Teachers know exactly what they will make when they are going to school for their teaching degree. Who doesn’t do their homework when choosing a career and that homework includes researching salaries. Just saying…

  3. speaking as a former student i do support this act, due to former issues all teachers as a community should be able to stand as a whole. Im glad and i appreciate teachers taking a stand for whats right in the onslot of protest we have been having as an educated/education community.

  4. And people wonder why homeschooling and vouchers for private schools are a thing. Public schools are in the toilet and it has nothing to do with funding. Homeschools are pumping out kids with better grades with zero state funding…I wonder why that is? Ducey has gone out of his way to appease them. Teachers should get paid more, but a strike during the school year. That is an all out attack on our kids. Parents are not going to sit by and watch.

  5. What more do they want? Ducey is giving them what they want and they’re still NOT happy…If I were Ducey I’d tell them to reapply for their jobs now and let 1/4 of them go. That will give the one’s that get the new contracts more than they asked for and then tell them to take it or leave it. If they love it so much then at least a little compromise here. I don’t get that consideration on paying my taxes.

  6. I read just last year that schools are struggling to keep afloat because schools get $ based on # of kids, and that # has been decreasing because more are going to private schools. Ok, there’s a good reason for that. But since this is so, make use of it, they can get into a bit of real estate investing where there’s always much potential for good money. If there’s a big decrease in student counts, combine schools that are near each other, leaving others (still owned by the districts) to be rented out to private industry, whether it be to private schools, nursing homes, health clinics, or other businesses. This would bring a mind-blowing amount of revenue to support the K-12 schools.

    BUT, it would need to be run by business-minded people, who typically would be conservative because frankly the liberal mind doesn’t function in the way needed to run such an organization. Sorry if that offends, but I’ve worked in education for 30+ years, and the mess of the school system lies solely in the hands of those running it, from the Dept of Education to the almost all liberal administration whose constant, gross mishandling of public funds is the root of the mess.

  7. As in Oklahoma (I was just there on a short vacation) the teachers aren’t happy with the promised raise, but now they’re demanding that certain funding sources be used for education.

    Do we want to empower any pressure group to decide which taxes will be imposed to pay public employees?

    Besides, voters have approved the sale of larger amounts of state trust lands for education – shouldn’t that suffice?

    • I believe that “we” are not empowering the “pressure group” in question.

      Make no mistake; the teachers are empowering themselves.

  8. No, but they just came out and said that, I did tell her that it was not doushey job either. That they need to complain to the local boards but she didn’t seem to understand.

  9. so will the teachers union/association be footing the bill for the others affected by this ‘walk out’? You know the folks that drive the school buses the monitors the school aides? I doubt it and if they dont support the ‘walkout’ are they going to be discriminated against by the unions/associations? i spoke with a couple of parents this morning and they are not happy, but like many they are not very knowing. One said it was ‘trumps’ fault!

  10. Am I wrong in thinking that these teachers signed a contract with the schools? You teach and we’ll pay you this much. They don’t teach, it’s a breach of contract. Fire them and sue them for breaching the contract.

  11. Citizens and those who are Parents, Fight for your children. Vote for school Vouchers, this will give your children a chance at a better education. They may choose to attend a Private school or a topnotch Charter school, but in the end it will give them a first class education and most likely go on to college.
    I sent my child to private school, I went with out a new car, patching up the old one. I did not dress in style, I did not have a fancy phone, just a flip phone. We didn’t go on many vacations, just around Tucson, a Tombstone day trip or Mt Lemon. But seeing how successful she is now at age 22, I know it was all worth it.
    Don’t keep sending your kids to the same failing schools, take a leap of faith for their sakes and invest your vote toward their future.

    Vote for School Vouchers and give your kids a chance for a better future.

  12. Children, please take out your pencils for today’s lesson.

    Lesson 1: We “educators” do not really mean what we say. We speak in what is known as “meta” language.
    Lesson 2: We think it’s okay to change the rules in the middle of the game, as long as the rules tilt to our own advantage.
    Lesson 3: You and your parents come second.
    Lesson 4: While we say it’s not really about us, it’s about you, we really think it’s about us.
    Lesson 5: You are our pawns, which we realize. But many of us are not bright enough to realize that we ourselves are also someone else’s pawns.
    Lesson 6: We will cave as soon as this gets too inconvenient for us, but your own inconvenience is much farther down our list.
    Lesson 7: Watch us for a continuing object lesson in how to squander the public’s goodwill.

    Your Professional Educator

    • I share your frustration with what I call “hiding behind the kids.”

      I’ll say it, I don’t want to teach your or anyone’s child for what they have been paying me. I have other things I could be doing. But, that doesn’t mean it’s ALL about the money. If it were, I would have left long ago. Hearing from students from years past who are now grown with children of their own, who reach out as they have to say thanks for all I did, that puts a lot of gas in my tank. But with each passing year, it’s become harder and harder. Especially as I have travelled to other states and hear how much different it is for teachers there. If I were younger, I’d probably pack the family up and move. But, it’s too late for me now. AZ has me for at least another year, more if the compensation improves.

  13. Never forget the Air Traffic Controllers that over estimated their worth.

    Give us CHOICE in education. Let the public schools promote socialism as they have been.

    • I’ve address this already in an earlier post. Not the same situation. Look at the public disruption that is being created by teachers leaving the classroom. Far more than that caused by the Air Traffic Controllers in the seventies. To this day, ATC’s stand in the way of technological advancements that would improve service and safety for all. As a teacher in the classroom now, I personally have paid out of pocket to get the technology into the classroom to improve the education of my students.

      STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE! You ALL need to feel the pain and wake up! Have you looked at the cost of private school recently? Good luck with that. I’m for more school choice. I’d simply like to have more school choice as a teacher, but I don’t. Large school districts create a near monopoly for teachers services making it harder for good teachers to be recognized and compensated accordingly.

      • Dr kat, during the ATC strike the fearmongering democrats warned us of catastrophic mid air collisions because of unskilled labor taking over air traffic. The exact opposite happened. The skies became safer.

        Maybe it’s time to try some new teachers. The current ones have gotten too smart.

  14. When the past Superintendent’s salary of TUSD was more than the salary of the President of the United States, you can see where the problem is. The school district couldn’t get the voters to vote for bond issues, so now they are trying to bypass the voters in their districts and hold the State and the tax payers hostage. Look at your property tax bill and tell me if the money they take from you worth the cost. I say no. When schools let students out of class to protest for LARAZA, and to protest so that the 2nd amendment of the Constitution of the United States should be removed or abridged, I believe they are not educators any more they are indoctrinators.

  15. “Walkout”: noun, an incident in which so-called organized labor abdicates duties.
    “Walk out”: verb, the act of so-called organized labor abdicating duties.
    Our teachers cannot even differentiate between nouns and verbs in their protest stickers.


  16. Without the right to strike there never would have been a middle class in America. As a long-time union member and officer I can tell you that strikes are always a last resort, but sometimes there is really no alternative. Because teachers salaries in Arizona are so low they are leaving the profession, and new teachers are not being attracted to replace them. Since the politicians — local and state — seem unable to solve the problem, the teachers have made a hard decision to take it on themselves with their only tool — the withholding of their labor. I’ll stand with them. Solidarity Forever!

    • No one is saying they do not have the right to walk out. If the business where I spend money, gave me a crappy product, do I have the right to not spend money there? The Teachers Union owns this mess!

    • Albert – teacher pay has always been – not the best – I had a wonderful mentor when I thought I was going to teach – was working as an assistant in a class room ; he would show me his pay check each payday with the question ; is this what you want to live on. That was back on the mid 70s, not much has changed. Folks who go to college to teach don’t have a clue what they are getting into is my assessment. IF they were in the school, seeing what life will be like perhaps they would make another choice. I’m not saying ‘bad teacher’ I’m saying the system is broke and broken – the union – outlived it’s use – way much DEAD WOOD IN THE SYSTEM – waiting to punch that retirement card and daily time clock. Chicken or the egg, doesn’t matter end result is a lousy indoctrination center that schools have become. Vouchers – I like. Private – I like. Let the – family decide the course of education – not the USD with it’s political agendas. Glad me kids is done!!! As a product of this system myself I’d say – ugh – but hind sight is 20/20.

  17. They put out a shit product and want more pay. Methinks they may be constructed downside up and ass backward. Again I say: Getcher kids outta “public” indoctrination centers. They (and we) rate better.

  18. Public indocunation at ours finest. Just Google:
    “Tarra Snyder Rosemount High School”.
    To see what your tax dollars are really buying.
    Throw more money to keep this farce alive? No way.
    If teachers really cared about teaching children, stories like Tarra Snyder’s wouldn’t exist.
    Public schools are little more then public scams.
    Local School districts run by local school boards control teachers salaries not the Govonor’s office and not the parents. No wonder our kids are beyond unprepared for life when those doing the educating are clueless as to who pays them in the first place.

    The Oracle

  19. Well it a gamble but when it comes to youth / kids of Arizona, it worth it.

    What teachers group should also do is Vote for a Democrat Governor who pledges to make education top priority.

    Out with the old , in with the new.

    Richard Hernandez

    • Richard, In the US we spend more money per child than any other country in the world. Where is this money going it’s obviously not into the clarss rooms. Why should I have my taxes go up (again) for so called education when most teachers couldn’t even correct a paper without the answers in the back of the teachers books? Why should my hard earned tax dollars go to a Union who believes that all children should be indoctrinated as good little liberals in goose-step with them? Forget it. I object completely. Teachers can’t/ don’t teach they indoctrinate.

      • Too broad of a brush here.

        There are bad teachers. I’ve interacted with some personally. One in particular asked me where the teachers edition was when they came in to replace me, because they spoke Spanish and I didn’t. I told them that I never had a teacher’s edition. I left and went to teach at a different school. That teacher lasted 2 days and was replaced by a long-term sub who spoke Spanish but could barely be understood by the 65% of the students who did not speak Spanish.

        If you want good educators, you need to pay them accordingly and also be able to fire them when they don’t perform.

        • Now, we’re getting to the heart of the problem. A good starting point would be to get rid of the problem, i.e. Grijalva and the rest of her ilk. They see public school as an opportunity to push their agenda and even get paid well to do it. Now, THAT is a twofer!
          From where I stand, her and her fellow liberal’s agenda is to push the narrative of, ‘It’s for the kids; give us more money.’ The truth is, ‘Give us more money to teach your kids why they need to hate America, while at the same time squeezing every dime they can out of taxpayers to produce kids who can’t read or write at grade level. Of course, we have just learned that isn’t a problem; just change the kid’s grade, without the consent of the teacher. That’s the ticket!
          I believe teachers should be paid well, IF they teach our kids well. Unfortunately, teaching our kids to learn how to be responsible adults and teaching them that they aren’t all victims who will never succeed without the help of the American government isn’t a flower that grows in Grijalva’s and the board’s garden and they do all they can to hamstring any decent teacher who wants to really teach students.

  20. Hey Republicans, start pushing a Fairness in Education Spending Bill. All State and Local funds for a child follows that child to whatever school or education opportunity that the Parents deem is for their child.

    • I actually there is some merit to the idea. I’ve often wondered how it would work. It’d probably have to be based on something like a quarterly or semester system. Students would only be able to change schools at specific times and schools would receive the payment per student. But it’s more complicated that it appears. Look into how funding is presently done, if you haven’t already. The Average Daily Attendance model would have to be overhauled.

  21. How about producing a Quality Education.

    The Schools are Failing and you want more money ???????

    • I’m so tired of hearing this argument. Have you really considered the alternative? The City of Cleveland may say that to the Browns and will simply say, “No more!” And the Browns may pull up stakes and move or simply go out of existence. Fine. But is that really and option here? Because that’s what people who make this argument are basically saying. “When you can show us you’re worth it, we’ll give you more money.” Well, teachers are the players who are saying basically that even though they love the sport, it’s simply no longer worth playing it any more.

      So, is going without a team really and option here?

  22. TO THE TEACHERS THREATENING TO “WALK-OUT”…just do it! Your idle threats, bloviating to the MSM, using children to further your agenda all the while your union never once offering to reduce its dues for your benefit, meanwhile the taxpayer takes the hit. So…just do it and walk out because our education system is already in the toilet.

    • Amen. I’ve been saying that for some time now. I get sick of hearing teachers essentially hid behind the “kids” to justify a pay increase. I’ve refused to join the union because it’s feckless in my opinion. If teachers aren’t willing to walk out now, they never will. If Ducey, the legislature and the district I work for don’t find a way to raise the pay, I’ll be retiring sooner, rather than later, and there is not a long line of qualified candidates to replace me. Oh, they may rob from Peter to pay Paul, but overall, the pool of qualified teachers will be smaller. It appears that most of the people posting on this site don’t see that as a problem. Time will tell.

  23. Time to pull children from Public Schools.

    Hey Charter Schools, here is your chance to pick up a bunch of new students. Never let a Crisis go to waste.

    • Pie in the sky. Charters fill a niche. If they had to absorb the numbers from all the public schools along with fulfilling the government mandates, which they often work around, their teachers would then have the same experience as teachers presently in the public classrooms and begin leaving the profession as well.

    • Charters are public schools. Our teachers will be walking along with our fellow public school teachers.

    • That is what I have done, and it has been a massive improvement. After this I would rather home school my daughter than allow her to be exposed to these political antics.

  24. Wah. You make more money than our Military, so what’s your beef? I want more money too.

  25. If teachers walk out while still under contract then Gov Ducey should immediately fire them. if Ronlad Reagan could fire Air Traffic Controllers and Phelps Dodge could fire striking miners then the Governor can fire teachers for refusing to work. Let’s see how they like not being able to get unemployment because they refused to work.

    • Apples and oranges. There have to be replacement workers to fill the positions of those fired. Educate yourself please. There is already a growing teacher shortage. Firing those who strike may bring some back, but not all, and then the downward spiral begins to accelerate. Those teachers who do return find the working conditions even worse and leave the profession or the state and each year the problem spirals more out of control.

  26. Well, well, guess it is about the money after all isn’t it. Its not about the idiot administrators or boards of education who control the money on a LOCAL level. Or even the pathetic parents that use the schools as a dumping ground for little Johnnie or Suzie. No, its not even about the lack of discipline in the classroom and the different disciplinary procedures for different races is it? Its simply about give me, give me, and give me. More money will magically transform the sewer that is public education into a shining beacon for the rest of the world. Give the teachers more money, and they will continue to produce the same crap result. Noting will change in the districts because the causes of the causes of the lack of education taking place in the schools will have not changed. Until you change the root causes of the failure of education then any idiot that thinks a more educated student will magically appear is as stupid as the “redfored” bowel movement. And this is posted by an ex-teacher.

    • ” Or even the pathetic parents that use the schools as a dumping ground for little Johnnie or Suzie”…….

      Hey mate, think you may be confusing 2018 with 1958…..there’s very few “Johnnie’s or Suzie’s” in Arizona public schools these days.

    • “Until you change the root causes of the failure of education” ________ Come on, fill in the blank so we can have a meaningful discussion.

      As a present teacher, who is willing to become an ex-teacher if the compensation doesn’t change, I’ll grant that money alone will not improve the overall state of education, but the status quo is untenable. As a simple starting point, why is it that a 2.5% raise has been proposed for Pima Co. employees but Gov. Ducey, until recently, thought 1% would be sufficient for educators? Are the services provided by Pima Co. of such a higher quality than those presently provided by teachers?

      • “Are the services provided by Pima Co. of such a higher quality than those presently provided by teachers?”
        Not higher quality, but public safety must always be the priority and it has been grossly neglected. Tucson Police Officers and TFD had not received raises of any kind for over 9 years. Calls for service go unanswered due to a shortage of personnel due to the rate of attrition being so high due to low pay. That being said, I am absolutely in agreement that teachers, and support staff need higher pay.

Comments are closed.