All over the country teachers are striking and protesting not just a lack of pay and poor work conditions but also against the privatization of their schools and they are winning. Everywhere except in Florida where the most brutal and destructive legislative session in recent memory, and we have had some doozies, where the republicans in Tallahassee once again plan to marginalize the teaching profession, and step up their efforts to privatize our schools is on going. When will our union leaders fight for our right to strike, perhaps the only thing Tallahassee will listen to?
From the Baltimore Sun,
Thousands of Maryland teachers and education advocates are expected to pour into Annapolis for a march and rally to push for more school funding Monday night.
The Maryland State Education Association is bussing in thousands of participants. Annapolis officials expect at least 7,500 participants, which would make it one of the largest rallies in the state’s capital city in the past decade.
From the Tennessee Education Report,
Lying low doesn’t work, but there is another way.
All across the country, teachers are supercharging the routine of lobbying and elections with a far more powerful tool: they are going out on strike.
Teachers in West Virginia, Arizona, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Kentucky have used collective action to transform the political landscape. They’ve decimated charter and voucher legislation, stopped further spending cuts, and pushed policies that actually benefit student outcomes: lower class sizes, more nurses and counselors, an end to toxic testing, and paying teachers adequately so school systems can retain them for more than a few years.
There is clear tangible evidence that strikes work. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “protests by teachers and others last year helped lead to substantial increases in school funding in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.”
It didn’t matter that striking is illegal in many of these states or that the state government is dominated by anti-union Republicans.
When teachers found the courage to strike they found out that the community—and often even their boss—had their back
With so many school districts struggling to make ends meet, striking teachers found that their demands for increased state funding had the support of their local administrators. Because superintendents closed their schools during the nine-day West Virginia strike, teachers didn’t lose pay and the strike rolled on.
From the Indianapolis Business Journal,
n a fiery Facebook post, Kokomo teachers union president Nicki Fain Mundy tallied the toll: It took her 14 years and a master’s degree to crack a $50,000 salary.
The numbers tell her that she’s making far less than college-educated professionals in other fields. She fights for small raises but watches her pay disappear when insurance costs rise and when the rising cost of living bites deeper and deeper into her paycheck.
Indiana’s legislative leaders are pledging to find money to increase teacher pay, which, at an average salary of around $50,000, ranks the lowest among neighboring states. But so far, their proposals have included studying the problem, asking districts to save money to fund the raises, and funneling small increases to schools in the hopes that teachers could get pay bumps.
These lukewarm proposals, plus an overall concern that Indiana lawmakers don’t value teaching, could create conditions that lead to a teacher walkout. State teachers union leaders aren’t encouraging action just yet, but other local leaders say they want lawmakers to know that teachers are fed up and fired up.
“I’m ready to walk today. I’ve been ready to walk,” Mundy, a high school English teacher, told Chalkbeat. “When you demand more and more and more of teachers and are willing to give them less, and you make it very clear that what we do isn’t respected—at that point, that’s when I’ve decided I think it’s time to walk.”
Friends, teachers can stand on the side of the road and wave signs, we can wear red for ed, we can blog, we can write letters to the editor and none of it matters because we aren’t having a policy debate. This is not a disagreement between two earnest parties. The republicans in Tallahassee want to destroy the teaching profession and replace public schools with charters and private schools that take vouchers. Evidence, facts, reasonable arguments don’t matter to them because they don’t care and our union leaders need to understand that and fight for our right to strike, while there is still something to fight for.