Teachers In Arizona Are Walking In - Not Out For Now - In #Redfored MovementTop Stories

April 05, 2018 16:09
Teachers In Arizona Are Walking In - Not Out For Now - In #Redfored Movement

(Image source from: azcentral.com)

The grassroots Arizona Educators United on April 11 and campaigned a statewide walk-in day for schools, but many schools organized their own events on Wednesday.

On the Wednesday morning, parents and students joined the teachers as they wore red color, waved signs and walked in to school together.

The group is demanding for a 20 percent increase in teacher pay and about $1 billion in financing for students to make Arizona competitive with bordering states.

Among them was a fourth-grader at Tarwater Elementary Mara Contreras, in Chandler. She mentioned that she was excited to stand with her teachers, particularly since her own teacher is retiring at the end of this year.

"She really works hard for us," Mara told. "She's been working hard for 25 years and I think she just needs a break. This year she gave it her all."

According to Noah Karvelis, In lieu of calling in sick or walking out, teachers wore red colored clothes and gather at a flagpole or other central location in front of their schools to speak with parents about conditions in their classrooms and other details for protesting.

A music teacher at Tres Rios Service Academy in Tolleson, Karvelis is one of the lead organizers for Arizona Educators United, which began as a private Facebook group for teachers and administrators that now has more than a total of 40,000 members.

"Those conversations are powerful," Karvelis mentioned. “If you live in this state, you have a vested interest in this movement. It’s going to be powerful to see what happens next week.”

Walking in, not out

Most of the teachers see walk-ins as a optimistic alternative to walk-outs, which expanded the national attention last month when nine West Valley schools shut down after teachers called in sick.

Among the participants in Wednesday's walk-ins were Mesa High School, Oak Tree Elementary in Gilbert, Tarwater Elementary in Chandler, Chandler High School and, Desert Sage Elementary in Glendale, Valley Vista High School in Surprise, Rincon and University high schools in Tucson and Pueblo del Sol Elementary in Sierra Vista.

With teachers and supporters wearing red and participating in various advocacy efforts, Wednesdays have become #RedForEd days. Last week, thousands of teachers assembled after school for a rally at the state Capitol.

A sixth-grade teacher at Tarwater Elementary, for Shannon Moxley, she said she hopes the walk-ins will show Arizona lawmakers that teachers have the backing of their communities in the push for improved state funding.

"As educators and people who love children, we would much rather walk in than walk out," Moxley mentioned. "We'd rather be in our classrooms teaching."

'I don't want to strike, but I will'

As far as being willing to walk out in the future, Moxley told it's not off the table.

"I don't want to strike, but I will," she added.

This sentiment of the teachers was echoed by parents, who gathered alongside teachers on the Wednesday morning before walking their children into the school.

"I'm appreciative of them for putting our kids first always," said Michelle Dexter, a parent of the child that foes to Tarwater. "I'm absolutely willing to support them in everything they do, so if we do this for weeks on end and don't make any progress, I'll support a strike."

Karvelis addressed concerns among some teachers in a post to the Arizona Educators United Facebook group, that a statewide walk-out would be more effective than a walk-in.

"We are absolutely willing to set a walk-out date," Karvelis mentioned in the post, stating that it could only happen with statewide support from teachers, parents and local businesses.

What’s happening in Arizona Classrooms?

Apart from the push for a better pay, Arizona teachers are shining a light on the environment inside their own classrooms, which they say have been on a constant decline for years.

Arizona teachers shared more than 330 comments and photos in a post to the Arizona Educators United Facebook group illustrating the lack of resources, which included:

- Cockroaches, snakes, spiders and mice in classrooms.
- Textbooks that are falling apart or have no covers.
- Broken chairs, desks, cabinets, music stands and copy machines.
- Leaking pipes and holes in walls.

"This has become a public crisis," told Rebecca Garelli, a teacher at Sevilla West School in Phoenix and one of the group's organizers. "I think it’s just escalated to a point where people say enough is enough."

--By Kavita R

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