After teacher walkouts, Arizona Republicans jostle onto education platform

Katy O’Connor, an art teacher wearing her #RedforEd T-shirt, canvassed in Phoenix./CreditCaitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

 

By Dana Goldstein | The New York Times

Campaign signs are clustered on street corners and highway ramps across this low-slung, sun-baked city, proclaiming “#YesforEd” and “Protect Public Education.” In TV commercials, the Republican governor promises to “put more money in the classroom, not bureaucracy.” “Our schools are falling apart,” his Democratic challenger counters.

Six months after tens of thousands of red-clad teachers swarmed the Arizona Capitol in a weeklong walkout, demanding higher pay and more funding for schools, education is a dominant issue in the state’s elections next month.

The teachers’ protest movement, which calls itself #RedforEd, has transformed the political battleground. The movement remains so popular in Arizona that candidates and causes across the ideological spectrum are competing to identify with it — including conservatives who, in years past, might have been more likely to criticize teachers or unions than associate with activist educators.

That has left some Democrats — teachers’ traditional allies — scrambling to differentiate themselves.

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