Guest Editorial: On Wednesdays We Wear Red

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Low salaries have many teachers seeing red. Arizona educators have decided to send a message that the current status quo for school funding is unacceptable.

Arizona administrators, educators, parents and students have now joined the West Virginia teacher’s movement by wearing red to school and urging others to do the same.

What first started as a small online grassroots effort, #RedforEd has now become a full blown social media movement of angry Arizona teachers demanding change from state leaders.

Over the years, parents and teachers have become outraged by the state’s sluggish response to the teacher crisis that has forced many educators to leave the classroom – even out of the state. But is anyone really listening?

For the Arizona State Legislature, it seems like pay-raise decisions are nearly impossible to pass. While individual school districts have the final say in deciding teacher salaries, schools remain funded by the state government. This leaves many schools left in the dark when creating annual school year budgets. 

Arizona teacher salaries remain some of the lowest in the nation even with the the recent 1 percent increase that was approved last year by the state legislature.

The looming November elections could be a game changer for many Arizona politicians. With the upcoming referendum on the expansion of Empowerment Scholarships, asking voters to consider the legislation on expanding school-voucher programs, education has become the hot button political issue for many Arizona voters.

A statewide strike would force lawmakers to restore the millions in funding that have disappeared over the years. It would be wise for Arizona leaders to listen.

As schools start gearing up for the end of the school year celebrations, highly qualified teachers are wondering if this will be their last year. Some have already decided it will be.

At minimum, Arizona leaders should seek ways of attracting and retaining skilled, committed educators into our local schools. Let’s start by proposing measures that will change our state laws that improve our public education system – making Arizona the leader in teacher pay reform, not just school choice.