Teaching Profession

Following West Virginia’s Lead, Arizona Teachers Protest Low Pay, Discuss Striking

By Brenda Iasevoli — March 07, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Arizona teachers are wearing red today to protest the low wages they say are forcing them out of the state and exacerbating the teacher shortage.

The “Red for Ed” effort sprang up over the weekend, according to the Associated Press, after Phoenix teacher Noah Karvelis started the Facebook group Arizona Teachers United. The closed group, which had nearly 8,000 members on Tuesday, called on teachers to dress in red clothes today. And that’s what thousands of teachers across the state did, according to Vox.

The initiative is a chance to gauge teachers’ feelings about a potential statewide strike. Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, came up with the idea.

“It’s a great indicator. If two wear red, people probably aren’t upset, people probably aren’t agitated,” Thomas told the Associated Press. “If everybody shows up in red, that may be a good indicator that people are ready to take a larger action.”

The average starting teacher salary in Arizona is just $31,874, according to the National Education Association. Low pay is one of the reasons for the state’s teacher shortage. According to a survey by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, 866 teachers have left their jobs as of December 8. There are more than 1,900 unfilled teacher jobs in the state, while 963 classroom positions are held by teachers with emergency credentials.

Exacerbating the shortage is Arizona’s teacher turnover rate, which, at 18.8 percent, is one of the highest in the country, according to a 2016 report by the Learning Policy Institute on the nationwide teacher shortage.

Diane Douglas, the state superintendent of public instruction, has pushed for a sales-tax increase to fund an 11 percent teacher salary hike, but that proposal has received opposition from Gov. Doug Ducey.

Last year’s budget included a 1 percent salary increase for teachers, with the same amount promised for the upcoming fiscal year. But educators in the state ranked No. 43 in teacher pay want more.

Arizona is just one of several states among the bottom rung of teacher salaries that has seen teacher protest and activism. A nine-day teacher strike over low wages in West Virginia ended on Tuesday with a deal that includes a 5-percent salary increase and a promise from the governor to find a solution for skyrocketing healthcare costs.

And now Oklahoma appears headed for a statewide strike as well. Last night, the Oklahoma Education Association announced that schools would shut down across the state if the state legislature does not pass a $10,000 pay raise for teachers and increased funding for schools by April 23. (That date may change after an outcry from teachers who called for a strike date of April 2.)

Momentum for the Oklahoma strike began building in much the same way it did in Arizona—with teachers connecting and organizing on Facebook groups dedicated to drumming up support for a statewide walkout. About 80 percent of OEA members support a strike, according to an online survey conducted by the union.


See also:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words Why This Science Teacher Doesn't Want the COVID Vaccine
Contrary to public health guidance, Davis Eidahl, an Iowa high school teacher, has no plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
4 min read
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Davis Eidahl, a science teacher at Pekin High School in Packwood, Iowa, says he doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He thinks social distancing and occasional masking will be sufficient to keep himself and others safe.
Rachel Mummey for Education Week