#RedforEd Teachers Rally Around Bernie Sanders’ Socialist Banner

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26: Aude Odeh, an english teacher at Barry Goldwater High School, cheers in support of the #REDforED movement during a rally in front of the State Capitol on April 26, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. Teachers state-wide staged a walkout strike on Thursday in support of better …
Ralph Freso/Getty

The #RedforEd teachers’ movement appears to be moving towards Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as their choice for the 2020 Democrat nominee.

The Sanders campaign highlighted that connection in its recent statement announcing its $34 million 4th quarter fundraising haul, noting, “‘Teacher’ was the most common occupation of Sanders’ fourth quarter donors, the five most common employers were Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, the United States Postal Service and Target.”

As Breitbart News reported in February:

A well-funded and subversive leftist movement of teachers in the United States threatens to tilt the political balance nationwide in the direction of Democrats across the country as Republicans barely hang on in key states that they need to hold for President Donald Trump to win re-election and for Republicans to have a shot at retaking the House and holding onto their Senate majority.

This teachers union effort, called #RedforEd, has its roots in the very same socialism that President Trump vowed in his 2019 State of the Union address to stop, and it began in its current form in early 2018 in a far-flung corner of the country before spreading nationally. Its stated goals–higher teacher pay and better education conditions–are overshadowed by a more malevolent political agenda: a leftist Democrat uprising designed to flip purple or red states to blue, using the might of a significant part of the education system as its lever.

The movement was started in March 2018 by Noah Karvelis, at the time a 23-year-old public school teacher in Arizona who had worked as a volunteer in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, as Breitbart News reported:

Ostensibly focused on better pay for teachers, the real objective of the #RedforEd movement, as expressed by its young founder at the Socialism 2018  conference held in Chicago this July, is to obtain political power to advance a socialist agenda.

“We’ve created an organization now. We have a network of 2,000 leaders who are experienced. They’ve been out on a job action. They’ve organized their campuses. They’ve collected signatures for a ballot initiative,” Karvelis said in his 13 minute speech to an estimated 1,800 fellow socialists from around the country, a number of whom were also teachers. (Beginning at the 11:00 minute mark of the video of his speech found at this KFYI webpage.

“We’ve built a new political power in Arizona and it’s taking control right now of the future of the state,” Karvelis added.

“We have to build our own political power. We have to build our own organization. We have to stay true to our values. They have to be Democratic,” the young socialist teacher concluded.

The leadership of the #RedforEd movement in states across the country is predominantly Bernie Sanders supporters.

Initially, these local #RedforEd groups were not “officially” connected with the state teachers’ unions in each state, but that separation is more nominal than real, particularly as it relates to political objectives, which are identical: defeat Donald Trump and Republicans at the ballot box in 2020.

In Arizona, for instance, where the #RedforEd movement began, the 23-year-old Karvelis was appointed the head of his local chapter elementary school union, reportedly at the direction of Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas.

On Monday, Breitbart News reported that the 80,000 member Education Minnesota teachers union has declared all-out political war against President Trump in 2020 in that key battleground state. In their own documents, the teachers union made it clear its political objectives were those of the #RedforEd movement:

The website for the 2020-2021 Education Minnesota Unity Summit outlines the event’s objectives:

Education Minnesota reshaped its election work in 2018, focusing on getting out the vote at the worksite level. While the union still supported pro-public education candidates, the focus on activism and building power at the worksite was the core of our electoral success.

As we look to 2020, voting is still a high priority. And through our democracy, and especially our union, we have the collective power to defeat Trumpism in 2020 and win a public education system in 2021 that can prevent Trumpism for the next generation.

That will only happen when Minnesota’s public school system is fully funded and educators can wholly and completely meet the needs of students without an ongoing struggle for necessities like a well-rounded curriculum, student supports and small class sizes.

Uniting in a movement around the public schools, which are a public good for everyone no matter where you come from or what you look like, will be at the crux of our 2020 electoral work and the next two legislative sessions.

The power of the educator vote only translates into real changes for students and for our democracy with a visionary movement in our workplaces and within our communities. Only this way will we reverse decades of underfunding and inequality, and build a truly inclusive, multi-racial democracy for future generations. Across the country, #RedForEd organizing is showing time and again that the public is with educators. [Emphasis added]

Sanders has long been the favorite of the radical socialists leading the #RedforEd movement, which Eric Bank, writing at Jacobin Magazine, a publication that proudly espouses far-left policies of the Democratic Socialists of America, noted in October:

It’s nice to see presidential candidates bending over backwards to profess their support for public school teachers. Faced with the largest educators’ strike wave in US history, the Democratic Party mainstream has, at least in words, reversed its commitment to privatization, austerity, and corporate education reform. Even Mr Charter School himself, Cory Booker, recently showed up in Chicago to support striking educators.

But only one candidate deserves credit for helping spark the teacher upsurge in the first place. And that person’s name is Bernie Sanders.

Bernie’s 2016 primary run played a crucial role in legitimizing class-struggle politics and inspiring strike leaders in each of the red states that experienced illegal statewide walkouts in early 2018 — West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. This behind-the-scenes story was not well publicized at the time, since strike leaders in the heat of the battle were understandably reluctant to give Republican red-baiters further ammunition to denounce the movement.

Obviously, most red state teachers went on strike because of their deeply felt grievances, not because of Bernie. But with educators and their unions debating which candidate to endorse in 2020, it’s important to understand how Bernie helped inspire the deepest labor upsurge in generations.

The high levels of financial support for the Sanders campaign by K-12 public school teachers seen in the fourth quarter was not a new phenomenon, as Open Secrets reported in October:

Some of the candidates appear to be more popular than others among different professions within the industry, based on campaign contributions through Sept. 30. Teachers, who combined to contribute $3.6 million to presidential candidates, gave a total of $1.2 million to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Professors, on the other hand, favored Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), giving her campaign almost $800,000, more than what any other candidate received from that profession.

Sanders still leads the Democratic presidential field in fundraising from the education industry, which doled out a total of $13.2 million to Democratic contenders. The Vermont Senator’s grassroots campaign has brought in $2.9 million from the industry, only $20,800 of which came from those who maxed out to him. The senator, who enjoys a strong base of small-dollar donors, has amassed $43 million thus far from those who each made a contribution less than $200.

Sanders has been a vocal supporter of the #RedforEd movement since its inception in March of 2018.

In May of this year, he led the way among 2020 presidential contenders praising the public school teacher walkouts in North and South Carolina.

In September, he traveled to Chicago to show his support for the Chicago Teachers Union on the day the members voted to authorize a strike.

In November, the United Teachers Los Angeles, “the second-largest teachers’ local in the country,” announced their endorsement of Sanders.

Last week, Sanders vocally supported striking teachers in Scarborough, Maine.

As the 2020 campaign heats up, public school teachers in the #RedforEd movement are likely to accelerate their political activities in opposition to President Trump, and the most likely beneficiary among the leading Democratic contenders of that effort is Bernie Sanders.

Though it is likely the 2020 presidential nominee of the Democrats will not be known until the party’s convention this summer, Sanders’ current surge in the polls and in fundraising appears to be helped significantly by his strong ties to the #RedforEd movement.

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