They went on strike in West Virginia and Oklahoma. They went on strike in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oakland...in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Arizona.
All over the country teachers are standing up and walking out. Sure, it's about salaries, but it's also about class size, wrap-around services, and pensions. It's also about teachers' students and their own children.
The strikes are in response to years of neglect. Teachers are tired of being disrespected. They're tired of seeing their students left behind by shrinking budgets. Teachers are tired of seeing funds meant for their schools and their students being used for private, religious, and privately run charter schools. Scores of teachers are leaving their profession in frustration. Those who have stayed are standing up and fighting back.
States aren't able -- or willing -- to invest the money needed to fully fund their public education systems. Indiana, for example, has yet to see its school funding reach the level it was at before the 2008 recession. Indiana teachers earn almost 16 percent less than they did in the 1999-2000 school year when adjusted for inflation. The state's Republican majority began the 2019 legislative year calling for teacher raises, but the Republican-dominated Indiana House sent a budget bill to the (also Republican-dominated) Senate which offers schools a scant 2.1% increase...only slightly more than 2018's inflation rate of 1.9%. At that rate, it will take decades for teachers to reach salaries equivalent to those in 1999-2000. There seems to be, on the other hand, plenty of money for the privatization of education. Hoosier legislators have had no trouble increasing the amount of money for charter and voucher schools each year.
Why haven't Indiana teachers walked out? Former state senator Tim Skinner thinks they ought to.
Former Senator: Teachers should think strike
[Skinner] believes that public education has been the target of the Republican Party for the past 15 years and refers to "senseless budget cuts, expansion of vouchers and crippling regulations."
Furthermore, he doesn't believe the Indiana State Teachers Association is taking a strong enough stand in response.
In an interview with the Tribune-Star on Feb. 22, ISTA president Teresa Meredith noted that many teachers across the state are calling for a walkout to raise awareness about the need to improve public school funding and teacher pay.
But she also stated, "I really want to avoid that." She believes other options must be used first, including a rally at the Statehouse March 9.
Skinner believes Meredith "is exactly wrong about what teachers should be doing. Teachers have been turning the other cheek for the last 15 years, and the ISTA still doesn't realize that they are getting the hell beat out of them," he wrote in an email to the Tribune-Star.
According to the 2018 PDK-Gallup poll the public supports teachers and their right to strike. Two-thirds of Americans agree that teachers deserve a raise. Nearly four of five Americans would support their local teachers in a strike for higher pay.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, American parents would prefer that their children not become teachers. Why not? Because of the pay, mostly. Also, I think, because of the lack of respect given to teachers, lack of job security, and the lack of support when on the job. Those are the reasons there is a serious teacher shortage in Indiana and around the country.
Indiana's (and America's) children need enthusiastic, well-trained teachers more than ever, but the number of college students going into education has continued to drop. Who will teach tomorrow's students? Will the state further lower the qualifications for teaching so more people who aren't actually qualified will teach? Lower qualifications will help fill classrooms with adult bodies, but how will that help student achievement?
Starting in 2011 Indiana teachers lost their seniority rights and most of their collective bargaining options. Most importantly, the legislature, filled with adults who only remember education from the point of view of a student, decided what and how teachers are supposed to teach but blamed teachers when student achievement didn't soar.
How does Indiana compare to other states?
Understanding Teacher Shortages: 2018 Update
The Learning Policy Institute has an interactive...
...map [which] highlights a number of key factors that reflect and influence teacher supply and attrition and signal whether states are likely to have an adequate supply of qualified teachers to fill their classrooms. Based on these data—which treat compensation, teacher turnover, working conditions, and qualifications—each state is assigned a “teaching attractiveness rating,” indicating how supportive it appears to be of teacher recruitment and retention and a “teacher equity rating,” indicating the extent to which students, in particular students of color, are assigned uncertified or inexperienced teachers.Each state gets a "teaching attractiveness rating" -- a number between 1 and 5 with 1 being the least attractive.
Indiana's teaching attractiveness rating is 1.9. Arizona, at 1.3, is the only state with a "teaching attractiveness rating" that is lower than Indiana's. Three states where teachers went on strike in 2018 are all higher...
- Kentucky: 4.05
- West Virginia: 2.73
- Oklahoma: 3
Maybe Tim Skinner is right.
"They need to stop promoting vouchers and stop promoting every single form of education in Indiana except public education," he said. "Stop for awhile and evaluate to see what good this 15-year reform movement has done for public schools ... and recognize it's damaged public schools."