TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thousands of educators, parents and supporters circulated posts and pictures Wednesday, March 7 with the hashtag #RedforEd in an effort to convince state lawmakers they should be paying more into Arizona's public education.
The movement was trending on Twitter at one point in the day, soon after members of the Arizona Education Association held a press conference in Phoenix.
In Tucson, red shirts could be seen on social media and in the classroom.
Susan Essington wore her red Tucson Education Association shirt to work. She travels around the city, teaching students with a medical reason to miss a minimum of 60 days of classroom time.
She said the Red for Ed movement is a matter of making legislators pay attention to the people again. Essington said she and her fellow teachers had to decide whose aging car would be the safest to drive to Phoenix the last time they wanted to meet with lawmakers face-to-face. She said the difference in money was apparent when the teachers compared themselves to lobbyists.
"We have a lot of issues with funding in Arizona and it comes down to who's running the show up in Phoenix," she said. "Where's the money coming from and who are they voting for...and we don't feel like they've been voting for us."
Essington's been teaching in Tucson for more than three decades. She said she was amazed to see the quick spread of the current organizing among teachers, parents and supporters of public education.
Derek Harris, who's been teaching at Dietz K-8 for three years, said Wednesday's social media campaign proved to be a success. He said most people are already taking pictures and sharing hashtags online, so it was just a matter of making that content about something more pressing.
Whatever the Arizona Teachers United movement does next, Harris said it will be decided by the majority of its members and in the best interest of public education.
"We need our legislators to know that it's time for us to get what we deserve," he said. "They need to respect us so that we can do our jobs better and help the kids."