Tucson Education Association President Jason Freed says walk-ins will continue and that each one is an opportunity to win public support.
“We went from simply wearing red attire, to walk-ins, and then sharing this with the community,” Freed said.
The Tucson Education Association is an affiliate of the Arizona Education Association. On KTAR-FM’s Mac and Gaydos show Tuesday Gov. Ducey said he won't engage with AEA leaders or those from Arizona Educators United, which organized #RedforEd. Ducey says the groups are engaging in political theater. The AEA has endorsed Democrat gubernatorial candidate David Garcia. Ducey acknowledged Garcia may be his opponent in the general election this fall.
“I’m going to work with teachers and decision makers. I want to separate that out and try to help the teachers inside K-12 but I’m going to stay out of the political theater,” Ducey said.
The governor says his budget contains $400 million dollars for K-12 education but that money making it to schools is contingent on Ducey’s budget passing the legislature.
Tuesday, Ducey met with superintendents from around the state about where that money would be spent.
Arizona Educators United is demanding a 20% raise for teachers and certified staff beginning next school year, annual raises until Arizona teacher pay reaches the national average, state classroom funding to return to 2008 levels, and no new tax cuts until per-pupil spending reaches the national average.
Ducey says the state has increased K-12 spending by more than $1 billion and has increased per-pupil spending 10% since 2015.
Sunnyside District Board President Buck Crouch says the governor should also meet with teachers.
“I think he needs to understand their position. We have many teachers that are working two jobs; it is not the best for our children. They need to be paid a living salary,” he said.
Crouch says he believes his district will adopt a resolution supporting the teachers after the two largest districts in the state, Tucson Unified and Mesa, did so earlier this week.
“I believe our teachers need more pay. They are the front line of schools and without them learning won’t go on,’ Crouch said.
Crouch says he is worried about a potential walk out and kids missing class. However, if both sides dig in Freed says a walkout may be inevitable.
“Where it goes is really a matter of the Governor. If the Governor steps up and takes care of our educators then we can get back to only focusing on our kids.”