CHANDLER, Ariz. — An intensifying series of red-state battles over education funding and teacher pay threatens to loosen Republicans’ grip on some of the country’s most conservative states, as educators and parents rebel against a decade of fiscal austerity that has cut deeply into public education.
As Arizona teachers pressed for higher salaries and more school funding, and Oklahoma teachers won some concessions from lawmakers amid a nine-day walkout, some in Kentucky continued their protests in favor of more money for education. Last month, West Virginia’s Republican-controlled government raised pay for teachers after a statewide strike.
The clashes could elevate public education into a major issue in several midterm races this fall. Republicans are defending dozens of governorships and state legislative chambers across the country, including in several Southern and Western states where all-Republican governments have passed sweeping reductions in taxes and spending.
On Wednesday in Chandler, Ariz., a middle class city in the Phoenix suburbs, hundreds of parents and students joined teachers in protesting outside schools. A parent, Christine Clinger Abraham, whose daughter is a senior at Chandler High School, wore a red blouse to show solidarity with the teachers’ #RedforEd movement. “They take so much personal interest in the kids,” Ms. Abraham said, “but they have to have a second job” to make ends meet.
Ms. Abraham typically votes Republican, but said, “I would switch party lines” in order to support candidates who want to increase education funding. “I am very disappointed in the Republican Party we have locally,” she said.