Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 90

NK: We each have specific focus points. Our primary focus point was restoring funding and it remains to be so. DW: And how has the recent rise of social protests in America, like the Women’s March, the March for Science, the March for Our Lives, and so on, affected the Red For Ed movement? NK: They are all examples of the ways in which people are standing up and fighting back. They are all movements to create social change, much like RedForEd. As for RedForEd, though, we’re fighting for one thing: the children of Arizona’s access to a great education. And we fight against anything that tries to prevent even a single student from having the greatest possible education that they can receive DW: There are a number of critics who suggest that the RedForEd movement is a communist, socialist ploy. I’ve heard ridiculous words like “commie” and “pinko” being thrown around. How do you explain such a McCarthyist reaction to a relatively basic call for educational reform in Arizona? Why the vitriol? NK: They are challenged by the grassroots power and energy, so they launch smears and try to destroy the movement that way. Clearly, unsuccessfully. 90 DW: For years, teachers have been pegged, negatively, as having “the best part time job ever” and asking for too much since they have their summers off. When teachers complain of their jobs, as anyone who works does, ultimately they are shouted down with that age-old mantra: “you knew what you were getting yourself into.” How would you address such statements? NK: It’s ridiculous. Every teacher works through the summer. And many did not in fact know that they were getting into this. 10 years ago, their salaries and careers looked much different. DW: A number of educators I have talked to have said that they were frustrated that the only talking-point among the public and among policymakers was the 20% raise. On the other hand, many teachers work several jobs. I have three jobs total, and Shantih isn’t one of them—it’s my labor of love, for which time is scarce. How should the movement balance the need for a raise with the perception of selfishness so often portrayed by politicians? How should those demands have been balanced against the others? NK: It is frustrating. We have continued to talk about student spending and support staff pay, but it has been largely ignored. The narrow focus of the policy makers is very telling.