There is no clearer way to say it so I’ll just say it, Utah teachers need to strike. They need to strike now and they need to strike hard. The state won’t listen, the people won’t help them, so they have no choice but to cancel lessons until they all end up with shiny red apples.
We are spending around the same amount on students that we did in 2008. If you’re shocked at this and you voted against the nonbinding opinion known as, “Question 1,” you are part of the problem. So if the legislature doesn’t help teachers, and the people of Utah can’t stand the idea of a tax that provides more school funding, what options are teachers left with?
And here’s the thing, a strike has proven to be a strategy that works.
Let’s look at what happened in Los Angeles last month. A total of 30,000 teachers went on strike and seven days later, they won. What did they win?
“The deal includes caps on class sizes, and hiring full-time nurses for every school, as well as a librarian for every middle and high school in the district by the fall of 2020. The union also won a significant concession from the district on standardized tests: Next year a committee will develop a plan to reduce the number of assessments by half. The pro-charter school board agreed to vote on a resolution calling on the state to cap the number of charter schools. Teachers also won a 6 percent pay raise, but that was the same increase proposed by the district before the strike.” Read the full story here.
But that’s Los Angeles and we’re different, you might say.
Fine, let’s look at something that feels more like Salt Lake City. This month, Denver went on strike for three days and they too kicked ass and collected $23 million in pay raises. The Mile High City’s teachers organized and demanded what they needed.
“Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union.” Check that story out here.
It’s not just money though, it’s more than that. Teachers who organize strikes come out on top not just financially but they also get to bend the ear of legislatures who don’t listen to them. Take West Virginia. In February 2018 they went on strike and when it was all over they went back to work with five percent raises.
Fast forward to two days ago. West Virginia teachers have gone on strike yet again. Why? Because Republican lawmakers in the state added the five percent pay raise into a bill that would marshal in charter schools and take public money to fund private schools. Teachers of The Mountain State have declined the raise due to this poison pill –that’s integrity.
It won’t work? Lawmakers won’t listen? Guess what? The bill has been tabled, they won again. Teachers have muscle, they just need to flex it.
Let’s bring it back to Utah to recap where we are. For the first time in seven years the K-12 budget has dropped by $41 million dollars. Teachers are not paid as much as they should be and they’re leaving the profession in droves. We have a Governor who can’t seem to figure out how to find money for teachers, he said, “We need to find a way to pay them more.” Citizens of the state voted no on something that was just an opinion, and not a demand.
So again, I say, teachers should go on a massive strike. Oakland teachers in California plan on going on strike tomorrow because of pay and class size –the same issues that plague our schools here in Utah.
Utah’s teachers’ demands are not moonshots, they’re necessary and rational demands that will sustain the future of public education in our state. If the state and its people won’t help them, teachers have a tried and true strategy to get what they want by putting down their pencils and walking out.