Photo History: Nearly Two Years Into ‘Red for Ed,’ Memorable Scenes From the Ongoing Wave of Teacher Protests

By Meghan Gallagher | October 15, 2019

Another school year brings a fresh wave of teacher protests over educator pay, school staffing, district funding and classroom priorities. (This week alone, teachers in Colorado have left the classroom while America’s third-largest school district braces for a possible third strike in seven years.)

With even more threatened protests on the horizon, we thought we’d take a quick look back at the marches that have defined the ongoing “Red for Ed” movement — the social-media-powered grassroots wave that has swept across the country and brought educators out onto the streets and into state legislatures, demanding better pay and resources.

It all began in West Virginia in 2018, with teachers striking in February in response to low salaries and spiraling health care costs.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Their victory there quickly inspired other educators and unions (located primarily in Republican-controlled states) to follow suit.

A look back at 18 months of marches since West Virginia:

January 2019 — California

In Los Angeles, sign- (and umbrella-) toting teachers and supporters rallied in the nation’s second-largest school district.

David McNew/Getty Images
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images


May 2018 — North Carolina

Near the bottom in national rankings of teacher pay, thousands of teachers and supporters marched for increased wages and better school funding in Raleigh.

LOGAN CYRUS/Getty Images
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images


April 2018 — Arizona

Arizona teachers staged a sprawling five-day walkout in 2018. Thousands of crimson-adorned educators brought their salary and school funding concerns to lawmakers in Phoenix, resulting in a 19 percent pay increase.


April 2018 — Colorado

Colorado’s underfunding of schools and shortchanging of pension funds were on the list of complaints resulting in a two-and-a-half-week strike in the spring of 2018. Educators rallied inside the capitol building in Denver to demonstrate.


April 2018 — Oklahoma

A statewide strike in Oklahoma, advocating for additional school funding, lasted nine days, with protesters marching in Oklahoma City.

J Pat Carter/Getty
J Pat Carter/Getty Images


April 2018 — Kentucky

Lacking a legal right to strike, thousands of teachers in Kentucky called out sick on the same days to march in their capitol in Frankfort.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


February 2018 — West Virginia

Back where it all started: The seven-day protest in West Virginia (where it’s technically illegal to strike) sparked not only a pay raise but a movement of teacher activism.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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