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Red for Ed in Arizona: Teachers holding "walk-ins"

Posted at 3:17 PM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 21:09:52-04

While some Arizona educators have called for state-wide walkouts as they fight for higher pay, the largest education association in Tucson says, for now, it is simply working to build community support.

Talk of an Arizona teacher's strike has increased among teachers, especially on social media, since West Virginia teachers won a pay increase after a strike last month.

Jason Freed, Tucson Education Association President says his organization is not currently organizing a strike.

"We certainly understand what took place in West Virginia, and now we're seeing it in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and so what the future holds, nobody knows," Freed said. "But I'll tell you that in all three of those instances none of those educators wanted to see a strike."

In the 1970's the Arizona Attorney General's Office stated that while there is not a specific law outlawing a teacher strike if one does occur it would be illegal, and participants may lose their certifications.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Mark Brnovich said his office is aware of that opinion, but it has not been asked to weigh in on the issue. The spokesperson said only the legislature, either as a whole or house or senate, public officer of the state, or the county attorney could make such a request.

Wednesday, educators are planning "Walk-Ins" at some schools in the Tucson area. 

Freed says a "walk-in" consists of teachers gathering outside their schools before classes start to rally and discuss the challenges they face. They then plan to walk into their buildings as one, along with parents and students, to show solidarity.  They also plan to wear red as they have in the past.

More teachers plan to march from Tucson High to the state building in downtown Tucson Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

A rally at the state building will start at 4:30 p.m.

Derek Harris teaches band in the Tucson Unified School District. He says for now he and his peers would prefer to spread their message without missing work or force districts to close schools.

“What we're trying to do is not do anything that would hurt the children's education during the day,” he said.

Freed says T.E.A. hopes to win public support through these events, which can help them build political capital.

"We know once the community understands it they'll be behind us and then hopefully the governor knows. Then that we don't need to see things that happened in other states to have the change that's needed here."

Harris said he is hopeful the Legislature will use the remaining days of this legislative session to add more money for schools and teachers to this year’s budget.

“We're not going away, and they got elections coming up,” he said.