Changing Education: What Do The Teacher Strikes Mean?

Teachers have been making headlines across the country lately. We’ve heard for years that being a teacher can be a tough occupation because it requires such long hours, hard work, and little pay to make up for it. The reward of being an integral part of students’ development is worth it for many, but others have been forced out of the industry because of financial troubles.

Now teachers have decided it is time we listen to them.

Strikes Across the Nation

The first notable teacher strike of 2019 started in Los Angeles on January 14th. It lasted over a week and took place in LA Unified School District, where teachers were calling for better pay, more reasonable class sizes, and more support staff. A strike like this had not happened in Los Angeles for thirty years.

Chicago’s second charter school strike took place in early March with a third potentially on the horizon. This latest strike ended “with the teachers union winning concessions on pay raises for teachers and paraprofessionals that will put their salaries on par with educators at non-charter schools.” It is charter schools rather than public schools where Chicago sees the most discontent from teachers.

Most recently, Denver saw teachers in their metro area’s largest district, Denver Public Schools, walk out for a week. Their strike found support from students, many of whom joined their teachers on the picket lines. The strike ended after several meetings between district administrators and the teachers’ union with an additional $23.1 million being funneled into teacher pay for next year, plus changes made to bonuses and incentives.

Why Is This A Growing Trend Right Now?

In 2018, America saw eight major teacher strikes, something that “arguably hasn’t happened since 1968, when large-scale walkouts occurred in Florida, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and New York City, along with smaller-scale ones in cities such as Cincinnati and Albuquerque” (The Atlantic). Additionally, scholars and analysts are saying that key aspects of the current wave of strikes, including negotiation terms and long-term implications, make this situation unprecedented (The Atlantic). Teachers are now calling for long-overdue change to an essential industry.

The past several years have seen several movements encouraging more support and awareness for communities calling for change. From the Me Too movement to the marches after the Parkland school shooting – and whether or not you agree with the goals or actions of any of the movements – it is clear that we are in a period of time where people feel empowered to stand up for a cause and share their stories.

Author: Megan Menendez

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