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Teacher Strikes Spreading—-And That Is A Good Thing

April 3, 2018

There is a concerted spirit among teachers in this nation. I am applauding that spirit.

It is only a few weeks since the teacher’s strike ended with a deal to hike pay for all West Virginia state employees.  Teachers led the way.  Now, as a result nationwide teacher strikes are spreading fast.

The one that is gaining most attention is in Oklahoma where teachers held to their promise to leave the classrooms and picket.  Hundreds of schools throughout that state are closed.  Granted there will be some hardships for students as it is preventing testing which is key to ensure federal funding.  But when it was made known that in many Oklahoma classrooms teachers are required to pay out of their own pockets for a wide array of items for the classrooms—well–there is no way that any rationale person would not be in alignment with the teachers.  Last night’s evening news reported other than furniture and books teachers funded everything else in the classroom.

Meanwhile in Kentucky schools are closed with teachers swarming to the state capitol building in Frankfort.

Out west Arizona teachers have taken to their statehouse in Phoenix with buttons reading ‘I don’t want to strike, but I will.’

Lets be clear about what is happening.  There is an effort in each of these states to ensure teachers are treated as worthy as their professional calling.  The teachers are also advocating for more education funding for the classrooms so students can excel.     Teachers are pushing Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures to hike their pay, saying declining real wages threaten to drive staff out of the public school system.  We see what happens when education funds are cut in Wisconsin, and teachers are under-valued.

Educators see leverage and have used it in tight private sector labor markets.  That is proof they know how to operate and can stand toe-to-toe with those who seek to cut education funding.  I am so proud of the teacher’s unity, and spine to fight for what is right.  They are doing so for the best interest of a profession that should be treated and honored as one of the most vital in the nation.

And let us not forget that history also has a lesson with this issue.

In the five years that followed World War II, as teachers then felt left behind amid crowded classrooms and past-paced private sector wage growth, there were around 60 teacher strikes across the United States.  Many of those strikes were without legal protection or official union support.

This time there is a national mood that stands with the teachers and urges them on.  I sincerely applaud their actions.

And so it goes.

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