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Teacher-Strike Movement . . . Looks Ahead To Using Experience Gained To Help Dems In November

May 26, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

PHOENIX — It looked like one of those YouTube man-at-the-beach interviews by Mark Dice where random clueless passers-by don’t know what country Mt. Rushmore is located in, or where Donald Trump lives.
But these particular questions were posed to red-clad protesters outside the Arizona State Capitol. They had answers, all right, but probably not what the majority of Arizonans believed.
They were representing the #RedForEd movement for higher teacher pay. Their strike kept about 850,000 public-school students out of class for just over a week, from April 26 to May 4, even though the Republican governor, Doug Ducey, surprisingly had agreed to demands for a 20 percent pay increase by 2020, even before their demonstrations led to shutting down schools statewide.
Opponents said a stronger motive for the activism was developing political-organizing skills that would drive Grand Canyon State Republicans out of office in the November elections. Indeed, some prominent #RedForEd leaders were tilted quite left politically.
Would their ease in accomplishing a popular teacher pay raise nevertheless fail to unite voters on larger changes like flipping the GOP legislative control in the Grand Canyon State to blue? It was the same sort of question that captured the attention of Democrats and Republicans across the nation in this election year.
Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia, endorsed by another #RedForEd leader, Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas, predicted “huge consequences” in November against Republicans, according to an NBC News report. (See May 10 hardcopy issue of The Wanderer, “Critics Say Arizona Teacher Strike Teaches More About Politics Than Pay Raises,” p. 3A.)
On April 25, the conservative Seeing Red AZ blog posted an interview video made outside the state capitol. Trump’s name drew scorn from red-clad protesters, while mention of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders elicited enthusiasm.
How about a 25 percent tax increase for education? Even though 25 percent is a hefty one-quarter of 100 percent, they chimed their approval. “Yes.” “Yes.” “Great.” “I think it would make perfect sense.”
Your opinion of Trump? “Unqualified, uneducated.” “I don’t even let his name come out of my mouth.”
How about impeaching Trump? Even though impeachment would be done by the U.S. House, an older woman relished the idea of her personal involvement: “Give me the paper, I’ll sign it.”
With the substantial pay boost approved by the Arizona legislature, the protesters moved on to the next goal, a ballot question in November to increase income taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Arizonans to fund education. As if the protesters’ hungers would be satisfied at that point.
The illegality of the teacher strike hardly was worth a nod while the Phoenix-based, leftist Arizona Republic enthused at the top left of its May 6 front page about power and politics. “Arizona’s historic teacher walkout was a political awakening for the #RedForEd movement’s rank-and-file educators,” the story began.
It soon moved on to quoting prominent organizer Noah Karvelis, a 23-year-old in his second year of teaching after moving to Arizona following university graduation in Illinois.
“We’ve won the first battle, but now we must win the war,” the newspaper quoted Karvelis telling protesters at the state capitol on the last day of the walkout.
Karvelis had been a volunteer in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and canvassed last year for Knock Every Door (knock
everydoor.org), whose website headlines “political revolution in your community” and laments “the disastrous 2016 election.”
Had Karvelis been at the other end of the political spectrum, the Republic could have strewn stumbling blocks along his way for being a right-wing extremist, but the paper was comfortable with his political affinities kindred to its own. Not that the public majority would have approved his slant, though.
The conservative Washington Free Beacon website (freebeacon
.com) noted on May 9 that Karvelis began scrubbing his records.
The site said it “revealed weeks ago that Noah Karvelis, the Arizona music teacher who spearheaded a protest that presents itself as bipartisan, had spent the previous years working with partisan election groups working to recruit Democrat candidates and canvassing for liberal campaigns.
“His work with the recruitment group Run for Something led to him being hired as campaign manager for a local Democrat’s campaign,” the Free Beacon said, adding: “…Karvelis said his partisan views had nothing to do with the protest, which he maintains is not political. To back up his claim, however, he appears to have removed evidence from his Twitter profile that was used to align him with socialists.”
Later in the story, the Free Beacon said: “Karvelis says that his decision to unfollow the socialist accounts was part of an attempt to ‘balance’ the views on his timeline, not to cover up any association with socialists. ‘I unfollowed those accounts to balance the political views present in my Twitter feed,’ Karvelis explained in an email. ‘As I have become more involved politically, I have made a more direct effort to ensure that I am not in an echo chamber of political viewpoints’.”
The Arizona Republic does deserve a nod because it posted an opinion article early on, on April 24, by conservative GOP Arizona State Rep. Maria Syms about Karvelis’ left-wing slant:
“It turns out our friends at #RedForEd are more red than many people know. Cursory research (my public-school teachers taught me well) reveals that #RedForEd’s music-teacher leaders, 23-year-old Noah Karvelis and comrade Derek Harris, are political operatives who moved here within the last two years to use teachers and our children to carry out their socialist movement — cue Karvelis’ former boss Bernie Sanders.”
Karvelis, Syms wrote, is “the media darling, teaching two years in Arizona with a provisional certificate. He prides himself on teaching the hip-hop music of Kendrick Lamar (whose lyrics include ‘we hate Popo (police), wanna kill us dead in the street for sure…’) to 10-year-olds, indoctrinating them in ‘social movements and societal change’ and ‘socioeconomic and racial privilege’.”
Syms didn’t return two voicemails that The Wanderer left at her legislative office.

Hijacked

Conservative GOP political consultant Constantin Querard told The Wanderer on May 14 that #RedForEd had been channeled into partisan purposes.
“While a lot of the people who showed up were not there for partisan purposes, the movement was clearly being hijacked by liberal groups,” Querard said. “That is why the RedForEd supporters who are suddenly running for legislative offices are running exclusively against the very same Republicans who voted FOR the pay raise, while the Democrats who voted AGAINST the teachers and their pay raises are getting a free pass.”
Meanwhile, Rob Haney, a retired chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party, based in Phoenix, told The Wanderer on May 14 there’s irony in the fact that schools, which strive for being bully-free, have their own sets of bullies.
“Teacher-union members are in the forefront of discussions on how to stop bullying in our schools. However, the teachers are using Democrat Party bullying tactics to intimidate others,” Haney said. “They have just closed Arizona schools by an illegal strike of public employees, which left parents and students in an untenable situation.
“They also caused major disruptions on our streets as they marched by the thousands to the state executive and legislative offices, screeching and shouting to demand a huge pay raise. And they shunned fellow teachers who opposed the strike,” he said. “Much like the Democrats in Washington, D.C., they will suffer no adverse consequences for their acts.
“Our children are being taught the abusive art of bullying by their teachers, who pretend to be opposed to bullying. The teacher unions give 93 percent of their political donations to the Democrat Party. In this case, the teachers bullied a Republican legislature and governor into submitting to their demands,” Haney said.
“Far from the Republicans winning union votes by their capitulation, they have now energized the Democrat base to vote out Republicans in the fall. This is reminiscent of RINO Sen. John McCain supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform to kill the Republican Party with millions of new Democrat Party voters,” Haney said, adding:
“The only answer I see to the destructive tactics of teacher unions is for parents to home-school or send their children to private schools, thus preventing the Democrat Party unions from possessing the minds of their children.”
Radio talk host James T. Harris, of Phoenix-based KFYI (550 AM), had as a guest on May 7 a teacher from suburban Chandler, Jennifer Hill. She told of harassment against teachers who opposed the strike. Hill said she heard she was fired, but when she checked with her human-relations department, she was told she had been suspended for her own protection.
The talk host said #RedForEd teachers taunted Hill online about her being fired.
Harris also had a retired union-member caller who said union members were brought here from neighboring states to demonstrate, from California, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico.
Given western distances and Phoenix’s location in south-central Arizona, that wouldn’t have been a brief drive.

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