(Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP
PHOENIX — A group was urging Arizonans to wear red on Wednesday to show support for the state’s teachers and to demand schools be fully funded.
“Everybody who believes in public education and believes that teachers deserve a fair wage are encouraged to wear red [Wednesday],” Noah Karvelis, a spokesman for the group behind the initiative, Arizona Teachers United, said.
The event, Wear RED for ED, was gaining traction on social media earlier in the week. More than 1,300 people said they would participate and thousands more indicated they were interested.
Karvelis, who is also a teacher at Littleton Elementary School near Avondale Boulevard and Buckeye Road in Avondale, said the event was designed to show state officials that people want changed.
“The concept of this movement is basically to have teachers stand up and really kind of draw attention to our unfair wages and our unfair treatment by the state and our Legislature,” he said.
Karvelis said donning red was not limited to educators.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be just teachers,” he said.
“A lot of it will be teachers on their campuses but we’re also really trying to be inclusive here. We care a lot about the people who make our jobs possible as well — so nurses, our school staff, the people in the office, the people who are maintenance workers on the building — all these people are included in this movement as well.”
Participants were asked to snap a photo of themselves wearing red and post it to Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags #REDforED and #AZWhatIsThePlan. Karvelis said he hoped the latter hashtag catches the eye of state officials.
“This is not sustainable,” he said. “We need a plan for education and we need it now.”
He also said Wednesday’s event was not just a one-off. Instead, it was intended to start conversations.
“What we’re looking to do is to not just have this be one moment where we all wear red on the same day, but to get teachers together talking at their campuses, talking with their colleagues and figuring out what next steps we need to take so that this becomes a safe place to be a teacher, where it’s actually a viable option as a career in Arizona,” he said.
by Ali Vetnar