Roberts: #RedforEd rally shows Gov. Ducey should be afraid
Teachers with #RedForEd rally for more pay at the state Capitol on March 28, 2018. Kaila White/azcentral.com
We now know the color of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s nightmares:
As in a roiling sea of energized teachers and parents wearing red and seeing red as they descend on the state Capitol to demand, among other things, a 20 percent pay raise and a return of $1 billion cut from schools since 2008.
Teachers, wearing buttons that say: “I don’t want to strike. But I will.”
Chances of the nation’s most poorly paid teachers getting a 20 percent raise: 0.0 percent.
Chances that you will see more out-of-state Koch-connected money pouring into Arizona for that ad campaign extolling the many wonderful advances in public education since Ducey took office: 100 percent.
Ducey will fight back with help from the Kochs
Ducey is a Koch-funded politician who campaigned in 2014 on a platform of cutting taxes every year. Even the idea of raising taxes – which is what it would take to provide decent pay raises – gives the guy a rash.
It doesn't matter that corporate tax cuts have siphoned away hundreds of millions of dollars in just the last three years – with more to come. Or that tax credits for private schools are now sucking away $150 million more – with more to come.
It doesn’t matter that Arizona’s public school teachers are bailing out of Arizona’s classrooms, leaving far too many of Arizona’s students being crammed into ever-bigger classes or being taught by substitute teachers or by people who couldn’t even qualify for a standard teaching certificate.
It doesn’t matter that the state is investing $924 less per student, when adjusted for inflation, than it was a decade ago.
It doesn’t matter that even business leaders handpicked by Ducey to help him figure a way out of this mess have concluded that the only way out is to raise taxes.
This governor and this Legislature aren’t going to do it.
Something is happening here
Chances that their resolve will bite them in their nether regions this fall when they are up for re-election?
A few months ago, I would have said zero. But something is happening in this state.
You saw it with Save Our Schools Arizona, a grassroots group of political neophytes who defied conventional wisdom and managed to put Ducey's expanded voucher program on hold. Prop. 305 will allow voters to decide in November whether they want to divert massive amounts of public funding to private schools.
Now you’re seeing it with Arizona Educators United, a grassroots group formed via social media just three weeks ago, energized by the success of West Virginia teachers whose nine-day strike led to a five percent pay hike.
The result: #RedforEd, a growing movement not of political activists or professional organizers or union reps, but of your kids’ teachers, who are fed up finally and no longer afraid to say so.
People like Josh Martin, a sixth grade teacher in Chandler who after 18 years in the classroom with a master’s degree, is wondering why he has to work three jobs (and his wife, two more) to support his family.
Martin, speaking to the thousands who attended Wednesday’s rally, noted that teachers previously haven’t been willing to stand up for themselves.
“We have been tread upon for so long and we take it with a smile,” he said.
Well, they aren't smiling now.
Based on what I saw on Wednesday, Ducey should be afraid. He should be very afraid.
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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