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Arizona educators preparing for long-term walkout to protest low pay

Arizona teachers and education advocates shout as they march at the Arizona Capitol highlighting low teacher pay and school funding Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona educators were preparing for a long-term walkout in protest of poor teacher pay, low per-student funding and worsening classroom conditions.

According to a Facebook video posted in a private group for Arizona educators, organizer Derek Harris said Arizona Educators United, the group behind the statewide Red For Ed movement, will soon be announcing a date for teachers to walk out of their classrooms.

“I’m not going to say what that date is, I only want you to know that it is coming and we kind of have to keep it under wraps because once the cat’s out of the bag, we can’t put it back in,” Harris said in the video posted Monday.

Harris, a Tucson teacher, said the date will be announced either later this week or early next week and warned teachers to start having their plans in place.

“So, if you are thinking that you know your district is going to be doing something like that, then you need to start planning for — what are the kids going to do that day?

“What are they going to eat? Are the parents going to be able to take care of that or are you going to need to have some other plan? Do you need to contact a daycare or a church that can house a lot of kids that day?”

Noah Karvelis, a music teacher from Tolleson and another Red For Ed organizer, told KTAR News 92.3 FM earlier this month that the organization had already been considering its protest options, which included a strike.

Teachers and educators who do not have those plans ready ahead of time may not be ready for a walkout, Harris added.

“If you don’t have that plan in place, you’re not ready to do a walkout. If your district does not have the superintendent support or the school board support, you may not be ready for a walkout. If you haven’t talked to your school district, to your superintendent, you need to make that a priority,” he said.

“I am talking to you — do not wait anymore. The time is coming, we need to make this happen and that means you’ve got to get this in place. If you’ve got everything in place, more information will be coming to you.”

Arizona Educators United and the Red For Ed movement have been leading the charge on statewide protests and walk-ins for weeks, including protests at KTAR News 92.3 FM’s studios as Gov. Doug Ducey appeared on Mac and Gaydos.

But Harris said this walkout will be different.

“Be sure you are dotting your Is and crossing your Ts. We cannot make mistakes with this, people. People’s jobs are on the line, children’s welfare is on the line. We gotta do this the right way, so be sure you’re ready.”

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