News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Huge crowds turn out for Arizona teachers’ fight for school funding
April, 26 2018
More than 50,000 people—teachers, students, parents, and community members—turned out in Phoenix, Arizona, Thursday to press the state government for increased education funding. If you’re an Arizona lawmaker, this should be a sight to make you think hard about future funding votes.x
— Casey Kuhn (@CaseyAtTheDesk) April 26, 2018
- Arizona teachers walk out, wearing #RedforEd, to fight for increased school funding
April, 26 2018
West Virginia. Kentucky. Oklahoma. Colorado. Arizona. Arizona teachers became the latest to take their fight for increased education funding and higher pay to their state capitol on Thursday, with a walkout by thousands of teachers that has closed schools in districts across the state. Years of tax cuts have “cost the state about $4 billion in revenue in today’s dollars,” which means not just low teacher pay but oversized classes, tattered textbooks and sometimes filthy conditions as school funding has dropped 14 percent since 2008.
As in other states, teachers speak of their second and third jobs:
In addition to teaching fifth and sixth grade science, Morton is a private tutor, a caretaker for emotionally challenged kids and, four nights a week, she turns her car into a taxi and drives for Lyft. She says it is the only way she can survive in a state that ranks 44th in the nation in teacher pay and 48th in per-pupil spending, according to the National Education Association.
The New York Times spoke to four Republican teachers about conditions in their schools:
“I’m a die-hard Republican, and I’m dying inside,” says Allison Ryal-Bagley, an elementary school substitute teacher. “Republicans aren’t taking care of our kids.”
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey made a show of promising teachers a 20 percent raise, but since he claims it will happen without raising taxes, teachers are skeptical—and in any case, state legislators haven’t signed on.
- Colorado Republican bill would jail teachers for walking out
April, 23 2018
Colorado teachers are getting ready to join the wave of teacher walkouts to fight for pay raises and increased education funding—and two Republican lawmakers want to jail the teachers for their activism.
The bill, SB18-264, would prohibit public school teacher strikes by authorizing school districts to seek an injunction from district court. A failure to comply with the injunction would “constitute contempt of court” and teachers could face not only fines but up to six months in county jail, the bill language reads.
The bill also directs school districts to fire teachers on the spot without a proper hearing if they’re found in contempt of court and also bans public school teachers from getting paid “for any day which the public school teacher participates in a strike.”
Presumably state Rep. Paul Lundeen and state Sen. Bob Gardner have not read the polls showing widespread support for teacher walkouts and an even more widespread sentiment that teachers are underpaid. Or maybe they have read the polls and they just don’t care how unpopular their jail-the-teachers bill would be. But while I don’t want to see any teachers fired and jailed … please, guys, pass this bill on Republican votes in an election year. Send it to your Democratic governor for a veto and give state Democrats an unbelievably good issue to run on.
- Massive majority of Americans say teachers aren’t paid enough. (They’re right.)
April, 23 2018
A strong majority of Americans know teachers are underpaid, according to a new poll, and it’s not a partisan issue. A whopping 78 percent of Americans think teachers aren’t paid enough—the national average teacher salary is $58,950—while 15 percent think they’re paid the right amount and six percent think they’re overpaid.
The AP-NORC poll found that parents and those without children are about equally likely to think teachers are paid too little. It’s a sentiment that crosses party lines, too. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans think teacher salaries are too low.
For the record, the people who think teachers are underpaid are factually correct: teachers are paid less than other workers with similar levels of education and experience. That’s one of the many reasons—chronic underfunding of schools that goes way beyond teacher pay is another—that teachers in several states have walked out of their classrooms and into their state capitols to push for higher pay and increased education funding. And the public supports them in that:
Slightly more than half of Americans — 52 percent — also approve of teachers leaving the classroom to strike in their search for higher pay, while 25 percent disapprove. Among those who say they’ve heard about the recent teacher protests, 80 percent say they approve of such tactics.
Arizona teachers have voted to walk out later this week after legislators refused to take action on higher pay and increased school funding.
- ‘You left me no choice, I have to use my teacher voice’: Wave of teacher activism rolls to Colorado
April, 17 2018
Teachers have flexed their muscles in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky in recent weeks, winning raises or increased education funding or both. But as impressive as that is, the wave of teacher organizing isn’t over. There’s Colorado:
Scores of Colorado teachers left their classrooms Monday and descended on the state capitol in Denver for what was billed as a “Day of Action,” in which they lobbied legislators to boost their pay and provide more funding for education. The teachers also held a boisterous rally at the capitol this afternoon, chanting, “You left me no choice, I have to use my teacher voice!”
“One clear way to value educators is by funding our schools. Legislators are working with a positive state revenue forecast in this session — they have substantially more money at their disposal this year to invest in educators and our students,” the Colorado Education Association said in a statement.
Teachers in Arizona are voting this week on whether to stage a classroom walkout, after previously conducting several walk-in protests in which they demonstrated outside their respective schools before walking in with students to conduct classes.
The Arizona teachers are demanding a 20 percent pay hike from an average of $43,280 a year for elementary school teachers and annual pay of $46,470 for high school teachers.
The teachers also want more money for support staff and for lawmakers to restore $1 billion in cuts to education over the last decade.
This isn’t just about teacher pay—though that’s a worthy cause to fight for in itself. But beyond the right of teachers to lead comfortable lives without working two and three jobs, and the ability of school districts to recruit and retain teachers, these teachers are fighting for schools that are funded enough to have up-to-date textbooks, adequate classroom supplies, support staff, and well-maintained buildings. And even if you aren’t a teacher, or a student, or a parent, you benefit as our society and our economy benefit from a good public education system. And if you’re a worker under difficult conditions? These teachers are offering up a whole different lesson about organizing to build power.