This study seeks to understand the role that media coverage of the Red for Ed movement and related teachers strike in Arizona had on college students’ views toward the issues of teacher pay and education funding. I conducted a survey of 448 students from Arizona State University who were first administered a pre-test gauging their initial views on teacher pay and education funding. Participants were then divided into three groups, with the first group watching a video montage of Red for Ed media clips that contained a minute-long clip showing the average annual teacher salary level in Arizona. The second group watched an identical video montage as the first group but without the average teacher salary clip, while the third group watched an unrelated and politically insignificant video. Participants were then given the same series of questions after watching their respective stimulus videos to gauge post-test views. The results show that students exposed to media coverage that showed what teachers make on an annual basis saw significant decreases in what they thought teachers should earn and how much the state should devote to education funding in comparison to those who saw similar media coverage of Red for Ed but did not see what teachers earn. In contrast, the latter group saw no significant difference compared to those who were not exposed to any media coverage of Red for Ed, challenging the widely-touted “protest paradigm” trap often highlighted in current academic literature. Finally, the study shows that while ideology plays a role in support for higher teacher pay and willingness to raise taxes to fund education, liberal students showed no overall difference in how much they would fund education in comparison to moderate and conservative students. This study, therefore, provides insight into how interactions and portrayals in the media can influence public opinion towards teachers protests and their goals, as well as how educators can adapt to this dynamic by adopting specific protest strategies to more effectively build political and public support.
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