Liz Leivas, co-president of the Tempe Education Association, right, collects signatures Thursday, May 1
PHOENIX – As they packed their protest signs and returned to the classroom to finish the term, thousands of North Carolina teachers turned to another fight: the midterm elections.  Their colleagues in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia are already engaged in a similar struggle after teachers' salary protests over the past few months, which have shut down schools nationwide, and have made education funding an important medium-term campaign issue in many states.
The Arizona Movement is collecting signatures for an electoral initiative to tax the rich and use the extra money for education. They swear to expel lawmakers and other civil servants who consider them non-educational. Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky are more candidates for office, and in some cases, they are putting into trouble incumbent incumbents who cut education spending.
A march through downtown Raleigh on Wednesday attracted thousands of teachers and closed schools for about two thirds of state students. Hundreds of people in front of the galleries of the House of Representatives and the Senate held signs and shouted, "Remember, remember we vote in November." City blocks turned red, the color of shirts worn by protesters. We agree! "
Teachers believe the dynamics of the strikes will push them into the election and force politicians to take education seriously."
"We turn to the election and we do it this way," said Noah Karvelis, an organizer The group Arizona Educators United, who mobilized the teachers 'stand, said, "We have the power, we're just going to execute."
In Oklahoma, candidate deadlines coincided with the second week of a teachers' retirement involving thousands of angry educators and their own The result was dozens of teachers and administrators who applied for federal and senate seats, many of whom went into office for the first time, popular targets being republican incumbents who opposed a package of tax increases, which were used to pay for teacher increases.
In Kentucky at least 39 current and former teachers of legislative seats are running State in its upcoming elementary school. The most famous race consists of a high school math teacher competing against Republican Jonathan Shell, the state's top major. Shell helped write a bill that changed the teachers' troubled retirement insurance, which prompted an angry response from teachers.
Amanda Jeffers, a Democrat and High School English Teacher in Oklahoma City, said she has no plans to run for office the national exclusion of teachers, where she was frustrated by the frosty reception she received from lawmakers received.
"I always thought teachers were a respected community in the state and we were not treated with much respect," Jeffers said. "The condescension is definitely what sent me over the edge."
The Teachers' Movement already has electoral implications at the place where it began, in West Virginia. On the state's main night last week, voters elected Democratic Senator Richard Ojeda to run for an open-air congressional seat. Ojeda is a retired army major who became popular with state teachers for supporting their efforts.
Jessica Sanabria, a teacher at Alderman Elementary School, Wilmington, who attended North Carolina on Wednesday, is not yet registered but will be soon. She recently said strikes by teachers in other states, and what happened in North Carolina has made her more interested in what candidates stand for.
"I'll be ready to vote next time – absolutely," said Sanabria. "I'm definitely more involved."
Mark Jewell, president of the lobby organization North Carolina Association of Educators, who organized the march, said Wednesday was only the beginning of a six-month effort to replace lawmakers who blamed them for failing
Arizona teachers are also committed to one six-day strike that has showered the Capitol with harsh rallies and a 20 percent salary increase over three years from a Republican managed to remain politically engaged-controlled Statehouse and GOP Governor Doug Ducey. Many teachers carried signs with the message "Remembering in November" during the strike, and the grassroots group focused their immediate efforts on the election initiative to increase income tax on wealthy earners.
More than 150,000 valid signatures are required to get the initiative on the ballot, and teachers have been trained on how to get the petitions circulating. On Wednesday, the organizers pledged to collect 25,000 signatures in support of the tax proposal in solidarity with North Carolina.
The movement in Arizona is known as #RedforEd because teachers wore red shirts when they started organizing themselves – and their message bears a striking resemblance to a political campaign. #RedForEd yard signs, messages of assistance scrawled on cars' rear windows and bumper stickers remain visible to Arizona communities, more than three months before the August primary of the state.
It's too early to say what kind of effect the movement will have at the 2018 Arizona race, with a hotly contested US Senate seat and Ducey running for a second term. And the momentum of the movement is certainly facing political opposition – the Republican Governors Association is already running pro-Ducey TV spots describing him as a champion of teachers, and Arizona was previously a hotbed of political spending on pro-school choice interests such as the billionaire chef Brothers.
Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, called the teacher movement a force to be reckoned with.
"A sleeping giant has been woken up, they are awake and alive and they are out there wanting change," she said.
Brewer also said that while the salary increase is well-deserved, teachers overdrawn the wealthy with the proposed tax hike
"If teachers put this initiative on the ballot, I think they could almost kill them" Brewer said. "This is just a page from Bernie Sanders' book, that's so socialist that I do not think people would tolerate it."
Associated Press Writers Gary Robertson and Emery Dalesio of North Carolina, Bob Christie of Phoenix, Sean Murphy of Oklahoma City, and Adam Beam of Mount Vernon, Kentucky contributed to the report.
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