When is enough enough?
Go back a few years and teacher strikes happened fairly regularly, usually in one district at a time. Then they pretty much stopped. There was the Great Recession and everyone was happy to have a job, even a relatively low paying one. But the recession ended. Economies brought on by the recession began to ease as well. Teachers’ salaries increased. In Maryland, the average teacher’s salary is about $65,000, not bad at all for working 190 days a year. Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the country and school systems are sharing that wealth with teachers.
However, while all may be well in Mary Land, all is not well in other parts of the country. Money for education in Oklahoma has been so reduced that many school districts are only open for 4 days a week. Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia have also not shared the better economy with their teaching staff. Then there is the pending Supreme Court decision testing whether teachers’ unions can have a closed shop that required everyone to pay dues or a maintenance fee to the union. With a 9thmember of the Court being a conservative, it is not looking too good for the unions.
So, what to do?
The revolution has begun. It started in West Virginia. The difference between this walkout and previous strikes is that the entire state was involved. After several weeks of closed schools throughout the state, the legislature caved and teachers were giving a 5% raise across the board.
Then Oklahoma took up the call. Oklahoma teachers didn’t just want more money for themselves, they wanted more teachers for smaller classes and newer and better teaching materials. The legislature gave the teachers a raise. They said that wouldn’t be enough, the teachers wanted the other improvements for the students. The legislature said “hell no”. The union said fine, we are staying home. Soon the Governor decided to grant the teachers what they wanted. He soothed the legislature by assuring it that the improved economy would take care of the increased cost without a tax increase. We will see but the union got what it wanted.
Now Kentucky and Arizona have joined the fray.
What is going on here?
It really is quite simple. This is just another example of big talk- we care about our kids and the education they get, followed by little to no action to back up the talk. OPUD- over promised, under delivered. Everyone is thinking that the expected Supreme Court decision is going to bust the unions. But these teachers are saying enough is enough. Guess they aren’t quite busted yet.