When Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced his 20×2020 plan on Thursday, April 12th, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
My relief wasn’t a sign of enthusiasm for Ducey’s plan — the details were unknown at that point.
My relief was that I would no longer have to organize a walkout. Ducey had given in to the movement. We won.
For the past three weeks I had been organizing my charter school campus as a response to the #RedforEd movement — started on Twitter in mid March seeking higher teacher pay and increased funding for public education. We wore red on Wednesdays. We took pictures to share on social media. We rallied at the state capitol. We did “walk-ins” as a sign of unity and a show of our capability to pull off a walk-out. I was a “liaison” for my school. Which meant I received emails from the main leaders, relayed new information to my staff via personal email, and led our school through the planned actions.
There was talk of a walkout leading up to April 12th. Ducey wasn’t budging. Something more drastic was needed — something like what happened in West Virginia, where a strike shut down public schools across the state for nine days. The strike led to a 5% raise from their legislature.
Oklahoma was in the middle of a walkout. Their legislature had already presented a plan for increased funding before they decided to walk out. Was their strategy working?
We didn’t know. People were fixated on West Virginia. Nine day strike = 5% raise.
Ducey wasn’t budging.
It was crunch time.
My colleagues and I were in discussions with our principal and our school’s CEO. Would there be repercussions if we walked out? Would the board be willing to offer a letter of support? What if we did half-days or something? Would we have to extend our school year if we walked out?
At night I was sending email updates to the staff. I was interacting with other teachers on Facebook, staying up to date on the latest possibilities.
It was stressful.
That’s why, when I heard about Ducey’s 20% raise proposal by the year 2020 — 9% next year — I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Of course we would have to stay vigilant, keep pressure so the plan actually materialized. Maybe we would need to write a ballot initiative to pay for it, because we know Republicans don’t like taxes.
But we certainly wouldn’t be striking. Not after a 20% raise offer.
West Virginia got 5%.
We won. Big.
I could get back to planning my classes for the year. My nightly routine would normalize.
Shortly after Ducey’s proposal, I watched a video update from the Red for Ed leaders. They were wearing dark clothes. They looked pissed.
This plan doesn’t meet all of our demands.
Unfortunately, this plan falls short.
We don’t know the details.
We don’t trust Ducey.
I wrote a post on the Facebook group we made for charter schools participating in the movement.
Hey, even if we got everything we wanted from this proposal, we would still need to stay vigilant to make sure the details materialized and nothing got changed down the line. Let’s start thinking of ourselves as a long-term organization with a mission to improve education in Arizona.
Where do we go from here? Stay vigilant. Stay active. Stay visible. Get ready for more actions. Ballot initiatives. Rallies. Campaigns.
Great work so far. Let’s keep this momentum going.
A couple days later, on a Sunday, I watched another video from the Red for Ed leaders. An official response to Ducey’s plan.
Inadequate. It doesn’t meet all of our demands. What about support staff? What about school supplies?
Noah Karvelis is a music teacher. He only has seven pianos. He wants more pianos.
Joe Thomas is the president of the teacher’s union. He wants Doug Ducey to meet with him in person.
The plan is not good enough.
We’re going to conduct a vote this week, to see if we should still walk out.
My colleague and I were interviewed by the Arizona Republic for article about charter schools and #RedforEd. The article was published on AZCentral.com on April 12th, the same day of Ducey’s proposal.
Read the article here: “Arizona charter educators find their footing in #RedforEd.”