Arizona teachers plan a day of protest over low pay

- Arizona teachers are organizing a day of protest to highlight low pay and the failure of the Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey to make major efforts to boost their compensation.

The grass-roots effort sprang up over the weekend when a teacher in a west Phoenix school district started a Facebook group called Arizona Teachers United. The closed group created by music teacher Noah Karvelis had grown to more than 7,000 members by midday Tuesday.

"Really amazed, really impressed with how it happened so quick," said Karvelis. "I thought the teachers were ready for it. I didn't know they were this ready for it."

The group is pushing for teachers to wear red to school Wednesday.

"To just stand up and say teachers are pushed around in the state. We're taken advantage of. We're underpaid and we're coming together now," said Karvelis.

Karvelis said he is hoping to draw attention to health insurance, but most of all, adequate teacher pay.

"Recession funding that was cut, that hasn't been returned to us so we're still basically living and teaching as if it's 2008, and there's no money at all," said Karvelis.

Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association says he's seen increasing interest in a teacher strike. The push grew after West Virginia teachers started a nine-day strike that was settled Tuesday with that state's Legislature agreeing to a 5 percent pay boost.

Meanwhile, Karvelis hopes that in Arizona. Gov. Ducey will take notice.

"We really might need to move away from the idea that education is some necessary evil that just has to be funded," said Karvelis.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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