by Brian Washington
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Noah Karvelis, a Tolleson, Arizona music teacher, plans to join what he hopes will be a massive crowd of about 20,000 educators at the State Capitol tomorrow. However, he admits he and his education colleagues would rather be somewhere else.
“We don’t want to be at the Capitol tomorrow,” said Karvelis. “We want to be in our classrooms with our students. But we have to go there and get solutions for them.”
Thousands of educators will rally at the Capitol to protest the state’s long history of shortchanging public education and Governor Doug Ducey’s inadequate proposal to address the problem. Seventy-eight percent of the 57,000 educators who participated in a survey last week voted to stage a walk-out tomorrow. Last week’s decision follows several weeks of educator-led demonstrations at hundreds of schools around the state. Students, parents, and community leaders showed their support by joining educators at the events. They all wore red as part of the #RedforEd movement, which involves tens of thousands of educators statewide all seeking more funding for public education.
The vote also follows Governor Ducey’s proposal to raise some teachers’ pay with no real way to fund the increase or the resources students need to learn. Organizers of the #RedforEd movement say the proposal didn’t even include education support professionals, like bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and classroom assistants, who are all vital to the day-to-day operations of any school.
Karvelis says the governor’s offer contained another major flaw as well.
“We rejected it because it doesn’t do anything for kids,” he said. “That’s the center of this fight and that’s been largely ignored by the governor.”
In Arizona, we prioritized corporate tax cuts over investing in public education. The governor just wants more of the same—little Band-Aid fixes. No new substantial funding for education. No new sustainable revenue sources.
Karvelis says if Arizona is serious about giving every student a great education, then lawmakers need to get serious about doing what educators know works. He adds the governor’s proposal does not work for students, which is why he and his colleagues from around the state, will be standing up for them tomorrow at the Capitol.
“I would love to get a face-to-face meeting with the governor, have our negotiations, and get some solutions,” said Karvelis. “That’s what we want—solutions for our kids.”
UPDATE: Seventy-five thousand educators turned out for Thursday’s demonstration at the State Capitol. Some are calling it the largest teacher demonstration in the nation’s history.