What do you call a grassroots movement that was organized on Facebook, has jumped five state lines, and made itself a force in the push to win pay increases for tens of thousands of teachers across the nation?
Increasingly, that movement has taken on the banner (and social media hashtag) of #RedforEd, though some groups use Red for Ed without hashtags. While this phrase isn’t unique to any particular state or group it’s especially caught fire with this latest round of teacher protests.
In Colorado and Arizona in particular, where grievances over teacher pay have led to strikes, walkouts, and protests, activists embraced the label of #RedforEd. And they have demonstrated with signs that don’t have the hashtag, too. They have turned out in the thousands at state capitals, in town centers, and in front of schools decked in bright red shirts and holding bright red signs listing their demands.
In the last month alone, #RedforEd has been tweeted about by influencers more than 5,500 times, according to CrowdTangle.
VIDEO: The passion and desperation jumps from the screen. I've edited a small sample. "Schools have to choose whether to give students subs all year or put 50 kids in one room with me." Teachers tell #RedForEd stories to AZ House Appropriations Committee. #12News pic.twitter.com/kty3qWrvbV — JOE DANA (@JoeDanaReports) May 2, 2018
That’s not to say there hasn’t been some pushback. A few weeks ago, Jasper Nichols, an Arizona resident opposed to the teacher protests, tried to trademark #RedforEd with Arizona’s Secretary of State in order to stop local businesses from printing paraphernalia for the protesting teachers, according to local media reports.
“All this campaign is, is to change the elections, the primaries, the elections in November,” said Nichols. He said he’s going to file a lawsuit in court but many legal experts in the state say his argument won’t hold up.
And, as noted, the term isn’t exclusive to the latest round of teacher activism. A foundation in Florida used Red for Ed as part of a fundraising campaign that had little to do with teacher pay but instead raised money for food and school supplies.
Still, #RedforEd—at least the social media label—seems to be following in the footsteps of other hashtag movements including #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #NeverAgain.
It remains to be seen if #RedForEd turns out to have the same staying power.
Image: Highland Arts Elementary School kindergarten teacher Melissa Perez participates in a walk-in on April 25 in Mesa, Ariz. —Matt York/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.