‘We’re being assertive’: Arizona teachers feel new power as strikes set to end

(The week-long strike led to the closure of schools across 110 districts, affecting 1.1 million public school students in the state. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP)

Over at the Guardian, Payday Senior Labor Reporter Mike Elk filed a dispatch for the Guardian from the Tuscon May Day protest, where teachers are winding the first-ever statewide strike in Arizona history:

“We’re teachers and we do everything that we are supposed to do. Teachers become teachers, [and] we don’t rock the boat. When people ask us to do something we do it. We’re polite, we’re not rabble-rousers,” said 57-year old Mario Garcia, a teacher at Mary Belle McCorkle elementary school in Tucson.

Now, Garcia said he was seeing a major shift.

“I see so many people that you would never expect to see at a protest. Something has changed.”

Veteran teachers said that their colleagues, once apolitical, are quickly turning into activists.

“Teachers don’t talk about these sort of things. We talk about our students every day, but we don’t [usually] talk about how we are underpaid and poorly treated. Now we do,” said 54-year-old art teacher Lisa Bradford. “It’s really exciting, because instead of being passive, as teachers have been in the past, we’re being assertive.”

Go to the Guardian to read the full story. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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