Coming  Off  LA S trike  Success,  a  New  Wave  of  Instructor  Protests  Takes  Hold

Coming Off LA S trike Success, a New Wave of Instructor Protests Takes Hold

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, February 3, 2019

#RedforEd, the national teacher-led motion that began last year, continues to flex its muscles. On the heels of a successful six-day strike in Los Angeles, teachers in Virginia, Colorado, and elsewhere in California are voicing their needs for much better working conditions, and, in some cases, threatening to strike.

On Monday, thousands of public school instructors flooded into Richmond, Virginia, for a one-day presentation to pressure state lawmakers to boost financing for public education. The Richmond day of action was arranged by a grassroots teacher group, Virginia Educators United. It came after about 9 months of preparing, according to a Virginia Educators United spokesperson, and was backed by an “independent coalition” of stakeholders who support public schools, including union members, non-union members, educators, moms and dads, administrators, and policymakers. Like the instructor uprisings in other states, supporters used red in uniformity.

The instructors’ demands for increased funding come amid a high drop in resources over the last years. According to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a Virginia think tank, per-pupil state financing for the 2018 -2019 school year was 9.1 percent lower in genuine dollars than in 2008 -2009.

The march garnered local and nationwide teacher union assistance. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Educators, marched in Richmond on Monday along with Lily García, president of the National Education Association.

“Our folks, we’re not huge in Virginia, however we’re magnificent, and we have three or four really active locals that have actually been working closely with the Virginia Educators United,” stated Weingarten in an interview Monday afternoon. “Virginia is a quite rich state, but really invests about a billion dollars less in education than it did before the recession, which suggests its concerns requirement to be reordered.”

Weingarten stated the last straw for numerous Virginia educators was seeing how easily legislators were able to come up with a “bountiful set of tax breaks” for Amazon to open its HQ2 in the state. If the state can competitively invest in organisation development, the instructors state, it need to be able to invest in its schools and instructors. According to data from the NEA, Virginia ranks 34 th nationally when it comes to teacher pay, with the average instructor earning $51,049.

Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam revealed support for the rallying instructors.

About 1,670 miles west, in Denver, instructors are also preparing to go on what would be their very first strike because 1994. While the strike was arranged to take place on Monday, last week, Denver’s public school district requested state intervention, a move that could delay the strike for up to 180 days. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has 14 days to decide if he will step in, and his workplace has so far said he is uncertain. If the state steps in, Polis could call for a neutral fact-finder to assist in negotiations, or deal resources like arbitration or mediation. A strike in the middle of state intervention would be prohibited, and teachers, assistance therapists, and nurses could face monetary penalties and even the revocation of their licenses.

Lisa Calderón, a Denver mayoral candidate, advised Polis to stay out of the situation. “This is not a state problem, this is a local employees’ issue,” she said recently.

The Denver school district and union are at odds over teacher pay, as well as the size of rewards for teachers who work in schools where there are high levels of poverty among trainees. Denver teachers are also highlighting the fact that administrative costs stays much higher in their city than in other parts of the state. Throughout 2018, there were indications of growing instructor militancy in Denver, and numerous moms and dads, community members, and instructors started talking about the likelihood of a strike months earlier. This past April, thousands of instructors came down on Denver, the state capital, to call on lawmakers to boost financing for public education. These presentations weren’t technically strikes (educators called them “walkouts”), as most school districts closed down ahead of time in assistance of the instructors.

Teacher pay in Colorado ranks 31 st in the country, and last year, the average educator earned simply under $53,000, according to the state’s education department. Pay can vary commonly across Colorado, with some districts averaging salaries above $70,000 and others with pay closer to $30,000. Last year in Denver, the average instructor pay (before perks) was $50,757.

In Northern California, the Oakland Education Association has called for a four-day strike authorization vote to start Tuesday. Oakland educators, like their equivalents in LA, have been calling for smaller sized class sizes, more school nurses and counselors, and greater pay. They have actually been working without a contract given that July 2017. In 2010, Oakland instructors went on strike for one day, and in 1996, they took the streets for 26 days.

Los Angeles teachers returned to work last Wednesday after a six-day strike, their very first labor stoppage since 1989. Following the strike, 81 percent of United Educators Los Angeles members voted to validate their new agreement, which includes new caps on class sizes and dedications to hire more nurses and curators. The union likewise won a commitment from the Los Angeles Unified School District to develop a strategy to reduce the number of standardized tests and check out limitations on charter school development, a big point of contention in the strike. Teachers likewise concurred to wage increases of 6 percent, which is what the district had used prior to the strike.