#RedForEd Gains Momentum In Arizona Business Community

By Annika Cline
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 5:13pm
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2018 - 8:08am
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(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
Julie Meeker stands in front of a DaVinci-inspired mural in her restaurant, wearing red for educators.

Teachers in Arizona rallying for more pay and resources have gained new supporters in the community — some businesses are supporting the #RedForEd movement with signs in shop windows, custom red products and discounts for educators.

“I happen to have a brother who lives in West Virginia and has school-aged kids. So they were impacted by the teacher walkout in West Virginia, and that was what kind of inspired me to get more involved with what they’re doing here in Arizona,” said Julie Meeker, owner of Mother Bunch Brewing in Phoenix.

At Meeker’s restaurant Wednesday, employees went about their jobs in red shirts. Meeker bought the shirts for the staff and even a red coat for the chef to wear each Wednesday — the day many teachers will hold weekly walk-ins before school to demand better pay.

“And they’re not just fighting for more pay, they’re fighting for more resources for their classrooms,” Meeker said. “I am older, let’s just say, and I remember back in the day when we had playground hosts, and we had art and music and P.E. and all of those things that make you a whole person, not just a curriculum that’s meant for standardized testing.”

And Meeker said the cause is directly connected to businesses. She pointed out that brewing requires skills in math and chemistry, and said having an attractive education system in the state is just good for business.

“So if we have an educated population here in Arizona, it’s going to bring more businesses to our state. It will increase our tax base. It’ll increase the number of people I can put in seats in my brewery and sell beer to as well,” Meeker said. “It’s not just the distant future, it’s the immediate future as well. It’s having that educated population available for the workforce here. It’s so important.”

More businesses are joining in each day. An Arizona teacher put together an online directory listing businesses that support the #RedForEd movement. More than 50 Arizona businesses are on that list. The website description says the movement needs business support to succeed, and encourages teachers and their families to, in turn, support the businesses that are sympathetic to the cause.

For her part, Meeker said her social media post about #RedForEd has gotten the most attention of any post about her business in the three years they’ve been open.

“All of the communities of our state are coming together to support these teachers. It’s not just the teachers out there alone. We’re here, we’ve got their back, and we’ll use any influence we possibly can to assist them in their goals,” Meeker said.

That means red shirt Wednesdays and a sandwich board out front that says, “Education is important... Beer is importanter.”

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