America is in need of a real worker revolt. The Fight for $15 has been ongoing, but to many, it did not feel like a general workers movement but more a fight by those at the economic fringe who need quick relief. The teachers’ strikes are different for it tells a different story, an abysmal pay and the disrespect teachers must endure.
The recent actions by teachers in three states, West Virginia, Colorado, and Kentucky are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Teachers throughout the country are discontented, and given the location of these actions, economics may be starting to stump ideology. These actions are happening in the Red States. Dave Jamieson at Occupy.com’s article titled “Oklahoma Teachers Prepare For Walkout As Red State Revolt Spreads” says it best.
The historic and successful strike in West Virginia has inspired a burgeoning uprising among austerity-weary teachers around the country. In addition to Oklahoma, Arizona could soon face a strike by teachers, who are demanding the state boost pay by 20 percent and return to pre-recession funding levels for education. (Meanwhile, teachers in Kentucky shut down public schools in 25 counties on Friday to protest proposed cuts to the state pension plan.)
Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona are all among the lowest-paid in the country, with schools facing growing teacher shortages. Republicans control the statehouse and governor’s office in all three states.
“After ten long years in a lot of these conservative states, the chicken is finally coming home to roost,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the 3-million member union with which the Oklahoma Education Association is affiliated. “They’ve given tax breaks to big corporations, defunded public schools, and said, ‘What could go wrong?’”
Those who came to the United States of America from countries in Latin America are astounded by the poor pay level, and the disrespect teachers must endure in this country. In most parts of the world, citizens revere teachers as well they should. Also shocking is the lack of attention that the media gives to a matter of such importance. Even the cable network station that purports to be Progressive, MSNBC took an excessive amount of time before they gave any substantive coverage to the West Virginia strike.
Teachers throughout the country complain about having to take 2 or more jobs beyond their teaching positions. That is a disservice not only to the teachers but the students. After all, an overworked teacher’s time is limited. It is exciting watching teachers throughout the country start asserting their worth by demanding a well-deserved pay increase.
— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) March 5, 2018
Three stories come into play with our teachers and for that matter both public sector and to some extent private, sector. There are the tax story, the moral story, and the economic story.
The tax story is one we repeat all of the time. Politicians can always find the money to pay for wars and military. Somehow they are consistently unable to fund social programs that do good, that invest in human beings. They reduce taxes that they know help a few, the least who need it, substantially. The pittance most of the masses get in return is not worth the pain both teachers, and ultimately their students must endure.
The morality story is self-evident. Teachers spend many hours with our most precious commodity, our children. In fact, many teachers spend more times with our kids than we do. How is it morally correct to redirect resources to corporations at the expense of our children. It is purely reprehensible.
The economic story is one that is not immediately evident. As politicians continue to invest less and less in education (teachers and overall expenditures) ultimately we get a less educated population. Those with means will buy their education. The country en masse becomes less intelligent and more subject to manipulation again by those with means. To some extent, America is in that condition where many continue to vote against their interests because of their inability to discern truth from deceptive, manipulative narratives.
These teachers’ strike must be a catalyst of things to come. One should be proud of these teachers throughout every county in the state holding their ground. They are showing that the power is with the organized masses and it is for that reason that the Plutocracy using the tenets of the Powell Manifesto is investing in killing labor unions.
Americans must use the tools that have not yet been taken away by the plutocrats, social media and other online resources to organize. It is true that labor unions make organizing much more accessible. However, with governments finding ways to coerce labor unions out of existence or into ineffective organizations, decentralized grassroots organizing will make the next best option.
It is high time that teachers start demanding their worth. It is time for parents to be at their side as they are in charge of our most precious commodity several hours a day. And for that matter, it is time that all workers start asserting their worth. It is not the members of the plutocracy that produce. It is us.