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Teacher Strikes, 2022

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We aren’t seeing a ton of news stories on the latest round of teachers strikes, but like 2018, there are a lot of them and they are fighting for the kids as much as themselves.

I think this trend that we’ve seen with teacher unions for about a decade now, going back to the Chicago Teachers Union in 2011, is teachers really putting the needs of students front and center. Just like in other strikes that have happened over the past decade, teachers are concerned about their salaries and benefits, and that’s always a part of the negotiations—especially now given that inflation means that without a significant salary increase, teachers are getting a pay cut.

In Seattle, a big part of those demands, in addition to salary increases, was enhanced access to special education services. And that really builds on the social justice orientation the [teachers’ union there] has had for at least a decade now. They’ve in the past negotiated over things like racial equity.

And then, in Columbus, it’s literally going on strike over climate-controlled classrooms, which is obviously about the working conditions of the teachers, but it’s also about the learning conditions of students. Imagine trying to teach 30 5th graders when it’s 95 degrees in a classroom—it’s impossible.

When teachers are willing to go on strike, increasingly it’s because they feel like the school district that they’re working in is not actually providing what it is that students need. And so they have to take that action in order to force them to do it.

This is why these strikes have had a lot of community support–striking for kids to have basic services and classrooms under 90 degrees are pretty good ways to get parents on your side! It’s also why we are likely to see a lot more of these strikes–teachers are respected members of the community (except by right-wingers which is increasingly a reason why people don’t want to teach) who are paid peanuts and forced to work in substandard conditions as they take care of our kids and hope dad doesn’t yell in their face for saying that gay people are human too or that slavery existed.

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