It was so refreshing to see thousands of business owners, parents and students across Arizona joining teachers in walking into our schools Wednesday morning as a sign of solidarity for the #RedForEd movement to boost education funding in the state.
We wore our red with pride and carried our signs of hope and change with the intent of getting the attention of our legislators to start putting our children first! Of course, many of our stakeholders, community members, and school districts supported the walk-ins because they were non-disruptive to the learning environment. Now that a vote has been taken, and a walkout is imminent, many parents and school officials worry how a walkout would impact families. With this walkout, there is great concern that even with the mass emails and social media alerts and phone calls home, some parents are still likely to drop their kids off at school as normal. There are teachers and leaders that are deeply divided on this issue of a walkout, and we know that there are some who may be trying to cause division within this movement. No matter where you stand on the issue, everyone must educate themselves on the facts and remain united as teachers, students, parents and community members in making our schools better.Jess Ledbetter has some great links in her blog to educate those who want to understand why this walkout is happening. For example, Jess writes, “Families should read the #REDforED 5 demands to improve AZ schools for students. Seeing the comprehensive demands can help families understand why Ducey’s #20by2020 proposal is not sufficient—and why teachers feel the strike is necessary even though it is inconvenient and expensive for all parties involved.” Educating the public, especially during this time, is paramount and critical because we cannot underestimate the impact outsider tactics like spreading misinformation can have on a movement like this. Are we truly aware of the degree to which our target audiences are getting accurate information regarding our concerns and student needs?
It was also so affirming this week to see our colleagues, families, and students in red during our walk-ins. It definitely infuses the community with a shared identity, a solidarity, a “yep, we’re in this together; I got your back,” yet it did not disrupt us in achieving our student learning goals for the week. It also showed our scholars how much we value them, and how to peacefully raise awareness for a cause you strongly believe in. We need this type of morale building, especially in a climate that can easily become hostile; all stakeholders working together are of inestimable value. We cannot take it for granted and we must continue to build that united front if we want this movement to stay on message and remain productive.
I understand that the walkout on Thursday will be really tough on some families and even our students, but heading to the state Capitol on Thursday must be done! We have the momentum and we have to capitalize on it. However, I do wish we could do it without shutting down our schools. Nevertheless, as Mike Vargus stated in his blog, “Without public school presence, advocating for public school funding is quite literally like trying to play a chess match without a Queen. We need to figure out ways to get down to the Capitol, build relationships with lawmakers, and play the game.”
How does one define a successful movement or protest? For me, if (1) we can say that our gathering of like-minded individuals fed our souls and strengthened us for future action and (2) we were able to network with other key education stakeholders, community members and other advocates in a meaningful way that will yield tangible benefits and sustainable results, then by that measure, any protest or grass root movement can be quite powerful and impactful!
#RedforEd is founded on the principle that there are educators and stakeholders who support strong public schools, and by working together for a common cause, we can improve our schools and the lives of our children.
I thought this was a very interesting and telling infographic…
Let your voices be heard! Comment below and let’s keep the dialogue going…