Dear Commons Community,
Teachers are being energized all over the country taking job actions and striking in order ot have their voices heard. This new found activism has been in evidence in at least four states – Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Here is a recap courtesy of USA Today.
“Teachers across the country are striking and protesting en masse, shutting down school systems and putting the pressure on state lawmakers to meet their demands.
At least four states this year have mobilized, often with similar gripes. Educators in West Virginia and Oklahoma are lobbying for more pay while Kentucky’s teachers are fighting proposed changes to their pensions plans. West Virginia teachers forced lawmakers to give them 5% raises.
Here’s what’s going on in each state:
About 2,500 Arizona teachers rallied at the state’s Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, demanding a 20% raise from Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Legislature.
There are now rumors the teachers could strike.
Arizona ranked 43rd in average teacher pay in 2016 at $47,218, according to the NEA.
Ducey and some Republican lawmakers didn’t directly address the teachers’ demands. Ducey, through spokesman Patrick Ptak, said the state has made concessions to teachers in the past, most notably a 4.3% raise from 2016 to 2017. In response, Democrats bashed the governor while highlighting how the state ranks low in teacher pay nationally.
Educators across Kentucky called out of work together, forcing school closures in at least 20 counties as they fight proposed changes to their pension plans.
The teachers requested substitutes or called in sick, leaving administrators unable to cover the absences.
On Thursday evening, a new Republican-backed bill passed through the state Legislature. The bill changes teachers’ defined-benefit plan to a hybrid plan with features of a traditional pension plan and a 401(k)-style savings plan. It also makes restrictions on how sick leave payments affect retirement benefits.
Kentucky’s average teacher salary was $52,135 in 2016, putting them at 26th in the nation.
Oklahoma’s teachers plan to stage a walkout Monday, CNN reports, just days after Gov. Mary Fallin approved a $6,100 average pay raise.
Despite the raises, the state’s largest teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, called it “incomplete,” reports CNN. The teachers plan to walk out on Monday and will hold a rally at the state’s Capitol in Oklahoma City.
The state ranked 49th in average teacher salary in 2016 at $45,276, notes the NEA.
West Virginia’s 20,000 teachers held a nine-day strike from late February to early March, which ended when Gov. Jim Justice signed a contract giving teachers and about 10,000 support staff a 5% raise.
Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers, said West Virginia’s teachers were some of the lowest paid in the United States. They had gone years without a raise while rising health-care costs cut into their income. The average teacher salary in West Virginia before the pay raise was $45,622.
Teachers rallied at the state’s Capitol in Charleston throughout the strike, which resulted in suspended classes for some 275,000 public school students.”