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#RedForEd leader: Spring movement had lasting impact on Nov. election

Teacher protest organizer Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, addresses teachers during continued protests at the Arizona Capitol Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Education was a major issue across Arizona this spring, when thousands of teachers with the #RedForEd movement took to the Arizona Capitol to call on lawmakers to increase their pay.

After Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature granted teachers with a 10 percent pay increase this year, the movement started to dissipate from the limelight.

But Joe Thomas, one of the organizers with the #RedForEd movement, said, even though the march on the Capitol was nearly six months ago, he believes it had a lasting impact on the November midterm election.

“You see more candidates, you see more campaigns, you even see the ballot initiatives looking through the lens of their success as, ‘How’s this going to impact education?'” Thomas told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Tuesday. 

“When you have the solar energy initiative fighting over whether this is going to be good or bad for schools — I think that’s a recognition through the research and the polling that they’re doing with voters,” he added.

“This is a very top-tier issue and has more strength and lasting power than it had before, and I think that’s due to the movement.”

Thomas warned voters who care about education to vote against Proposition 305, a ballot initiative that would allow a bill signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2017 to go into effect.

The bill, Senate Bill 1431, would make all of the state’s public school students in kindergarten through twelfth grade eligible to apply for the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which provides state funds for parents who choose to send their children to private schools.

“(Teachers) did everything they could to shine a light on education and we were largely successful in the end,” Thomas said.

“But there’s so much more that needs to be addressed and that’s not going to be done through bad ideas like Prop. 305.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM brings you complete election coverage all day Tuesday, including post-election coverage until 10 p.m.

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