#RedForEd: What’s About To Happen When Teachers Walk Out

Arizona educators last week overwhelmingly voted to walk out to demand higher pay and more dollars for the classroom. (Photo by Melina Zúñiga/Cronkite News)

By Chris McCrory

PHOENIX – Tens of thousands of educators will march Thursday from Chase Field to the Capitol to demand higher teacher pay and more classroom funding as part of the Red for Ed movement, in a historic walkout across the state. Here are the answers to some common questions:

How many people will this walkout affect?

At least 75 percent of Arizona’s 1.1 million schoolchildren are in districts that are shutting down during the walkout. As for teachers, 100,000 of them took part in “walk-in” demonstrations over the past three weeks, and organizers expect about half of them will rally Thursday or Friday at the Capitol.

The walkout is slated to begin Thursday, but organizers have not said when it will end. Thursday is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day, which is a welcome coincidence for some parents who can take their children to work. But if the walkout continues, many will be forced to use other child-care services.

Has this ever happened before?

This statewide walkout is believed to be unique in the state’s history. But there is plenty of recent precedents across the nation. The Arizona Red for Ed movement is part of a national outcry from teachers and education advocates about low salaries, who have seen success in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma after similar strikes by educators.

Is this a walkout, or a strike?

Effectively, the two words mean the same thing. Although the protest fits all the criteria for a strike (a union group refusing to work until contract dispute negotiations are concluded), Arizona believes teachers do not have the right to strike, according to a 1971 opinion by the Arizona Attorney General.

That opinion has never been legally challenged, so if school districts decide to punish teaches, it could prompt a court battle over whether public employees can strike.

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Teachers could be punished?

Theoretically, each school district can punish teachers who walk off the job. Many have encouraged their employees to use personal time or sick days when protesting.

But legal experts say it’s unlikely for a school district to take disciplinary action over the walkout even if an employee does not use personal time, especially after many school superintendents have voiced support for the movement.

“It depends on what their policy is for time off,” said Jessica Post, director at Fennemore Craig, a Phoenix law firm. “If a teacher has a time-off policy or vacation time, they can use it for anything. If they have time off and they choose to use their time off to do a walkout, then discipline would be much harder.”

When does the walkout end?

Organizers from Arizona Educators United, one of the grassroots organizations behind the walkout, were vague Wednesday when asked how the strike would end. One proposed idea is a vote to end the walkout – similar to the one educators held to gauge support for the action in the first place.

Noah Karvelis, an organizer and history teacher in Tolleson, said a meeting of his group, lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey would be a show of good faith.

“I would love to have those meetings, and I would love to have them with the governor there,” he said. “We’ve seen no movement on that.”

Speaking of the governor, what does he say?

Ahead of the walkout, Ducey has stuck by his plan, a proposed change to the state budget that would give teachers an incremental 20 percent raise by 2020. But educators and advocates say the plan doesn’t go far enough to meet other demands, including higher per-pupil spending and more money for classrooms and support staff, such as counselors and janitors.

Lawmakers also are skeptical of Ducey’s plan, which relies on Arizona’s economy growing by nearly 4 percent every year. Some called the plan optimistic.

The only other proposal on the table is from Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, who suggested a plan for a 1 percent sales tax increase, which he said would generate $1 billion annually.


  1. Many have encouraged their employees to use personal time or sick days when protesting.

    As a taxpayer this really pisses me off. Taking my hard earned tax money and allowing the idiots to get paid while not teaching and they are on “strike?” I call BS on all of the districts that will allow teachers to make up their pay by using my tax money when they did not work and were not on school grounds. Total disregard of the taxpayer again and simply rewarding bad behavior of the adults. Who loses in this scenario. The kids and the taxpayers. I call BS on the whole movement. It never was about the kids that the teachers just “love”. It was and is about the money for working only 9 months a year. They simply want more for producing a crap product that can’t compete in the real world. The state can simply give the schools all the money that they have but the money is distributed at the LOCAL level and the state doesn’t write the checks to the teachers. How about trying to reform teaching and get rid of the incompetent and lazy teachers. How about cutting administration costs in half? How about engaging parents to become involved in schools for their kids? How about going back to the basics so that kids can read, write and carry on an intelligent conversation after they graduate? Never happen. No one cares, only the taxpayer that pays will care and what happens when that money runs out. Glad I don’t have any kids in the crap schools today.

  2. If they walk they should be fired, and it’s time for the education system to go back to the basics.

  3. Hey jd, we have a long history of paying politicians while they do nothing or come home to campaign for re-election.It’s the American Way! Go Teachers!! Solidarity Forever!!

    • its not the teachers it’s what they teach. Pay – they knew the scale when they hired. There’s been a number of recent measures passed 301 comes to mind, where did the $$$$ go? Interesting that some districts like Vail do very well, while TUSD are dismal. Unable to rid themselves of ‘DEAD WOOD TEACHERS and ADMINISTRATORS’ because of the union. Let it collapse 100& works for me, let private schools replace them with a voucher payment system – produce excellence – get paid more. Imagine its easy if you try

    • Albert, you are being a little over the top. How are raises for the outstanding teachers going to be figured? How are the raises for the incompetent and worthless teachers going to be figured? How will the local boards distribute the money. Remember Prop 123 was the end all be all and now we got this crap? Its not a money problem, its a money priority problem. When the almost 60% of the allocated local/state funds are not being used in the classroom then something is horribly wrong. The pretend Unions out here ought to start at the local level and demand an accounting of the monies spent and why they were not spent in the classroom. ALL spending is budgeted on the local level, No? But no,,,,,,, the taxpayer, kids and parents have to suffer for their stupidity.

  4. “They simply want more for producing a crap product that can’t compete in the real world.”
    I can only agree 100%. A week ago a report was published in the AD I that said about 70% of 4th grade children cannot read proficiently. That is the deal product, and teachers cry about low pay? And work only nine months out of the year?
    As a tax payer I certainly am pissed over this. Our utility costs are gone up, they are now raising the cost of registering our cars and the teachers are on strike! Just when AP testing and finals are to be occurring.I
    What a disgrace! I surely an glad I sent my kid to private school and one of the best Charter schools in town.
    BTW, she was no smart kid, but by the time she graduated from high school,she was.

  5. The school district administrators are complicit in all this. Their actions (i.e. quickly jumping to announce the closure of entire districts) are revealing.

    The fact that they continue to allow Karvelis and union leadership to speak for them, and to tell them what to do, only means that Karvelis is in fact their actual, authentic representative. Intelligent people have been slow to accept that because of the ugliness of what it reveals.

    For Karvelis to sneer that the Governor needs to demonstrate “good faith” is somewhat nauseating.

    As a parent who put his kids through charter school because of this type of teacher and administrator incompetence and stupidity, I have reached the point where I hope the Governor and Legislature will begin to plat HARD BALL with these duplicitous people. For every day they stay out, reduce the 20% (actually 19%) by 1%. If they don’t go back to doing their extremely sub-standard work of educating and propagandizing the children of Arizona, they are welcome to take a permanent hike.

  6. As a taxpayer I say “Dock their pay” for everyday they protest and are not in the classroom period! How else can it be fair to the kids, as they will have to attend the days missed at the end of the school year?

    • Amphi janitors have lost two days of pay because of the teachers walkout. They will end up looking badly as the only ones they were looking out for were themselves.

      I just saw a car and the back window said “I am a teacher and I will never quit on your kids!”

      Love it.

  7. Even on its face, the lawyer`s statement, “If a teacher has a time-off policy or vacation time it can use it for anything” does not sound right for purposes of these striking teachers. Doesn`t vacation or any other time-off require prior approval from the supervisor and isn`t it irresponsible of a supervisor (and school boards) to authorize leave to so many teachers for any given day that the school cannot open? Doesn`t such a policy in fact encourage teachers to strike so that the question is raised, who are the schools operated for, the teachers or for the purpose of educating our children?

    • Luke, you already know the answer to that question. The schools are operated for the cronies and their fat no bid contracts, crony hiring, and all the rest. Why do you think that only a little over 50% of the allocated local taxes/state funds are spent in the classroom???

  8. The pay for teachers needs to be tied to results. Results means students in 4th grade can actually read at that level. Every student can speak English fluently by 2nd grade, with a big dose of help from parents. When they graduate, they are actually prepared for either college, or whatever they wish to pursue. And while we are at it, how about term limits for school boards ?? Only way to possibly fix TUSD..

  9. Left wing fascists have hijacked this. It was exposed as purely political when they chose to strike after being given the 20% raise they asked for.

  10. This article contains a statement that 100,000 teachers participated in “walk ins”. No where have I ever seen any reference to the fact that there are 100,000 teachers in the State of Arizona. If that were the case, then the average class size would be 11 students.

    • Another example that five out of every four people can’t perform basic math including those that came up with this 100K figure.
      At least it sounded impressive.

      The Oracle

  11. Who else has benefits this great! Only government employees…and they are the first to unionize. Trump could stop it.

    Just more swamp to be drained.

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