Republicans are scared of public school teachers

You know that you have politicians scared when they overreact.
That's what Republican politicians in Colorado have done.

Two Republican lawmakers who have long helped shape education policy in Colorado have introduced a bill that would bar teachers from striking and strip unions that endorse strikes of their bargaining power.
This bill stands practically no chance of becoming law...
However, that it was introduced at all speaks to growing concern that the wave of teacher activism that has hit other states could come to Colorado. Last Monday, several hundred teachers marched at the state Capitol for more school funding and to defend their retirement benefits. Hundreds, perhaps thousands more, are expected for more marches this Thursday and Friday.

Republicans and their neoliberal allies are learning too late that their decades-long efforts to totally destroy public education simply isn't popular with most voters, and that eventually teachers will have no choice but to respond. People are identifying with our public school teachers.

Overall, 78 percent of Americans said that’s not enough. Just 15 percent think teachers are paid the right amount, while 6 percent think they’re paid too much. In a 2010 AP-Stanford poll, 57 percent of Americans said they thought teachers are paid too little.
It’s a sentiment that crosses party lines, too. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans think teacher salaries are too low.
Slightly more than half of Americans — 52 percent — also approve of teachers leaving the classroom to strike in their search for higher pay, while 25 percent disapprove. Among those who say they’ve heard about the recent teacher protests, 80 percent say they approve of such tactics.

When 2/3rds of Republicans think that teachers are paid too little, it's hard to demonize the teachers. When you've been pushing to gut public education for years, it's hard to pretend to care about the kids' education.

Case in point is the Arizona teachers who will be going out on strike Thursday, despite Governor Doug Ducey offering a 20% pay raise.

Ducey tried to forestall a strike last week by proposing to meet one of the protesters’ chief complaints via a 20 percent teacher pay raise implemented in phases between now and 2020. But he did not identify a revenue source for the plan, and did not address additional demands for pay raises for school support staff and restoration of past education funding cuts. Two education advocacy groups that originally expressed support for Ducey’s plan withdrew it once it became obvious the money wasn’t there to make it feasible.
Another factor is that the strike could expose teachers to serious repercussions. Under Arizona law, school districts choosing to play hardball could deem strikers as having canceled their employment contracts, and could also seek to revoke their teaching certificates. Since this is the first statewide teachers’ strike Arizona has experienced, this is somewhat unknown territory.

So Ducey tried to bluff the teachers, just like the West Virginia Governor tried to bluff the teachers.
As for firing the teachers if they strike, well, that's an empty bluff as well.
just like West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado, teacher's wages in Arizona have been so low for so long that Arizona has a critical teacher shortage.

A new report shows nearly 2,000 teaching positions in Arizona remain vacant four months into the school year.

And 866 teachers have quit since August or just never showed up.

The survey of 172 districts and charter schools also found that more than 3,400 teaching positions that schools had hoped to fill this year are being staffed by individuals not meeting standard teaching requirements. They includes people awaiting certification, but also student teachers, those with emergency certification and those who are teaching interns while pursuing alternate methods of certification.

Sure, you can fire the teachers. But then you will have to explain to all your voters why you just completely destroyed public education in the state.
The average Arizona teacher's salary has fallen more than 10% since 1999 when adjusted for inflation.

Update: Colorado teachers will walk out Thursday too

Thousands of Colorado teachers are expected to descend on the state Capitol Thursday and Friday to call on lawmakers to make a long-term commitment to increasing K-12 education funding.
These Colorado districts have announced they’re canceling classes because they won’t have enough teachers and other staff on hand to safely have students in their buildings. They include eight of the state’s 10 largest districts, serving more than 400,000 students.
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Something about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has changed. He announced on Wednesday that he would be restoring the voting rights of paroled people convicted of felonies. Recently, he destroyed the Independent Democratic Caucus, a group of Democrats who effectively give power to Republicans in the statehouse, despite previously arguing they were beyond his control. He also claimed to be in "lockstep" with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a claim that one Sanders adviser dismissed as "100 percent Grade A American bullshit."

Governor Cuomo's sudden progressive turn, following his years of acting as the epitome of a centrist Democrat, has emerged in response to a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, who is coming after him from the left. Nixon's candidacy, an admitted long shot but a serious challenge nonetheless, is a good illustration of a broader trend of progressive pressure that is now shaping the Democratic Party -- whether those in charge like it or not.

For the better part of three decades, conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party has unequivocally stated that left-wing ideas and truly progressive candidates are unelectable outside of a few small pockets of coastal cities. But as the party gears up for what could be a 2018 election year full of wins, those assumptions are being challenged in ways not seen in a generation.

Across the country, progressives are running in primaries to challenge establishment-backed Democrats, or are already gearing up to take on Republicans in the general election. Where conventional wisdom says they should be tacking to the center, they are doing the opposite and doubling down on clear, unapologetic progressive values such as the right to universal health care.

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@gjohnsit
phony

Cuomo, a Democrat, promised to back a series of progressive policies and a Democratic takeover of the state Senate -- including the reunification of mainline Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference -- where he acknowledged that many of those policies had been blocked.

Nearly four years later and with little he had promised the WFP accomplished, Cuomo made similar pronouncements, this time weeks ahead of the planned WFP convention, while he is facing a challenge from the left by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon
...Without acknowledging he did not keep any prior promises, Cuomo, again seeking the WFP endorsement until it became clear he would not get it, has said this time will be different.

But the relationship between Cuomo and progressive activists appears beyond repair, and with the WFP nearing a Nixon endorsement, two major unions and Cuomo allies -- 32BJ SEIU and CWA -- announced on Friday they are leaving the WFP, as first reported by The New York Times.

from four years ago

The strong showing by Teachout and Wu was a victory for progressive voters who warmed to their message about tackling rising inequality, political corruption, and corporate abuses. It was also a rejection of Cuomo's economic philosophy, which led him to introduce a series of tax cuts for the rich, at the same time that he cut the state budgets for education and social services. I'd be willing to wager that most Democrats who voted against Cuomo objected more to his policies than to his personality.

Teachout and Wu’s insurgent campaigns gave voice to this sentiment. Eschewing the etiquette of internal party discourse, Teachout accused Cuomo of governing as a Republican, acting as a shill for the big banks and other campaign contributors, and being part of a "corrupt old boys' club" in Albany. Making full use of social media and appearances in more traditional media, she demonstrated that, even in this day and age, a candidate with a real message doesn't necessarily need the support of the party apparatus, or the financial backing of big donors, to have an impact.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

It'll be business as usual. The 'striking' workers will capitulate once they get another crumb or two.

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@The Aspie Corner
I will never throw shade on a grassroots labor movement.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@gjohnsit What makes you think other states won't do the same? This country doesn't know what a strike, let alone grassroots, actually is. Thanks to decades of brainwashing, 'Murican workers have completely and utterly given themselves over to fascism.

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GreyWolf's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Is Aspie unnecessarily negative? Maybe.
Is gjohnsit overly optimistic? Possibly.

It's nice to see teachers fighting back. - Sure, it's been too long.
Humans will grasp at crumbs to survive. - Sure, life forms do that.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

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@GreyWolf The built in problem with unions is it all revolves around wages and other issues. When wages are resolved, the other stuff gets shuffled, or dropped. The workers go back to work. Then next round it gets pounded that the union workers got raises for essentially doing the same level of work, from people who have no clout on getting better wages for themselves. So the question becomes why should I pay more so you can have a better life? and the answer is: my jobs worth more than yours, and I'm worth more than you are, and I have power. And the union member is free to vote for people who are against raising the minimum wage, or strengthening the safety net, and vote their pocket book. It's not all for one, one for all. The other built in problem is it sucks all over. and it ain't getting any better.

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@Snode

when a large portion of the private sector was unionized? Conservatives have been using the argument that public employees are overpaid with considerable success for years. It's wearing thin. Instead of asking why teachers get pension we need to get people to start asking why they don't.

A union member who votes for a candidate opposing the increased minimum wage is no better than a scab.

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Wink's picture

groundskeepers making $35,000
@FuturePassed
a year would be making half that if they worked in the private sector. And maybe true. But those kinds of public employee jobs help build the middle class. A tradeoff perhaps. But one in my view worth the extry tax dollars.

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

@FuturePassed Weaker unions failed when textiles and shoes went offshore. Stronger unions got theirs and felt free to be Reagan democrats. If it can't be all for one, one for all there will always be losers and it's only the degree that they lose that matters. A lot of union members have been voting republican because they have enough power to protect themselves. They look at social programs as a threat to their paychecks by taxes. If unions could get behind min. wage increases, medicare for all and all the other programs it would be a different story. But with a lot of unions, once they get theirs it's story over. It's what unions do. It's what we want our elected reps to do for us.

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@Snode But that's not what has happened in WV and Arizona. The teachers are demanding equal pay raises for support personnel and adequate funding for schools. The pay raise is just to keep from taking a pay cut as their insurance premiums are raised.
But all the MSM wants to talk about is that teachers are asking for more money, when the issue is far, far larger.
All people want to do is grumble that they don't have it so good instead of standing up and fighting for it. SMH.

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@Teiresias70 but unions aren't what they used to be, and neither is the working class. A lot of what unions accomplished that spilled over to the non union working class isn't there any more, and hasn't been there for years, all those worker protections. Unions are designed to protect their membership. It would be great if retail and McJob workers, the NAFTA'd and China MFN'ed could unionize but they can't, and if you can tell me how they can stand up and fight for themselves I'm all ears. But if the teachers win the wages and their bargaining unit accepts that, and the rest gets worked on "later" and later never comes they end up falling into that trap.

My concern is we are supposed to be for unions and what they stand for, but in a lot of ways I'm not sure what they stand for beyond the obvious, and it seems to be a one way street.

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strollingone's picture

teachers because, developMentally, they are, as a whole,stuck in the 8'th grade. This is the real problem with them. Cliques, false swagger, acting out, abject fear and terror, crudeness as a way of life, fascination with body parts. We are all stuck in detention with them until we find a way to wise them up. It's gonna take a whole lotta love.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@strollingone @strollingone They shit on school teachers just as much as Repigs by passing Repig policies like Common Core. edit: And Obamacare.

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strollingone's picture

@The Aspie Corner
if only because they spawned us. They, at least, produced people who can see what is really going on and, therefore, people that can do something about it. It is a tremendous responsibility, I know, but there is NO ONE else. Think of the Dims as a booster rocket that separated when it ran out of gas. We are the payload...there is no one else on board but us. We must now plot the course into the future. The good news is that our job is made simpler and our impact far greater because no one else is planning ahead for ANYTHING. Have the Republicans produced anything remotely similar?

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@strollingone We spawned them. Every recent development gay marriage, Me too, BLM came from the people. Our "leaders" dragged their feet, played it safe until polls showed a winner and they hot footed it to the front of the parade. I don't know how it used to work, if there was a social aspect to local dem politics, and all the local/state offices had a lot more clout, but power doesn't flow up from us anymore. It's all top down.

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Wink's picture

@The Aspie Corner

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

EdMass's picture

The issue of Teacher pay, school funding, etc stretches across the Country.

Included in the Country are States and Counties and Cities and Towns that have been / are controlled by both parties, for decades. Westchester to Detroit to Los Angelos...Teacher Pay, unfunded Pension commitments, etc.

I don't know how you ascribe this an issue solely at the feet of the misguided Rethugs.

Do Teachers deserve better (I come from a generational family of teachers)? Yes.

It is a societal issue and all that have been involved in creating it are responsible.

It should tell you something that teachers in Blue CO are going on strike. Boulder, of course. But no, the whole figgin State.

More to follow now that teachers know that there is a list that ranks States by Teacher Pay. What you mean we are 37th out of 50? Think about the children! Coming to a school and town meeting near you.

This is not an us or them issue.

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" What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Let us count the ways...

H> and Warmongering Corprocrats FTW!

Stop The War!

@EdMass

This is not an us or them issue

There IS a "them".

Them want to demonize public school teachers.
Them want to cut public schools until they break.
Them who demonized public school teachers were especially vocal in the Tea Party and with Libertarians.
Them usually vote Republican.

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EdMass's picture

@gjohnsit

Them promised pensions that go unfunded
Them couldn't get raises for Teachers through Town Meeting nor State Legislature
Them cut Teacher aids and bus drivers, etc
Them stopped buying Text Books and pencils a decade ago
Them don't vote Rethug, they vote Demorat

Who is in charge of the NEA and AFT?

Well how much did they donate to ..... the Democrats just last year?

The National Education Association ($23.7 million)
American Federation of Teachers ($8.8 million)

There's a lot more but this is just to kickstart it.

Come on, you know this cannot be blamed on the other party nor the "basket of deplorables". You know, you're telling me that there are those that wish their children to have a shit education and starve the teachers and hopes their community fails so the kids can play soccer without interruption because baseball is for those "other" people.

I lived in the bluest town in Mass. They hooked up with next town over to create a High School. After a few decades, The local town schools were underfunded and being closed, the High School sucked up all the $$$ and neither Democratic town was willing to pay more taxes to stop school closings nor expand the Hight School. Not Rethugs, Demorats.

Come on. Tell me you know a real person that says they are a Rethug that believes what you say they do. I want names. (Just kidding on that)

Geez

PS have linked a 5 year old video. I don't attest nor support it, but link it FYI.

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" What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Let us count the ways...

H> and Warmongering Corprocrats FTW!

Stop The War!

strollingone's picture

@EdMass
place that "it is everybody's fault so no one is responsible".

"It is a societal issue and all that have been involved in creating it are responsible."

Republicans have done NOTHING in 40 years to promote public education in our country. In fact, THEY dreamed up the "charter schools" and promoted them first as a way around desegregation and then as a way to benefit ONLY the neighborhoods that THEY live in. Look who we have a Sec'y of Education now. Our responsibility is in refusing to accept the depths of Republican meanness, narcissism, and capacity for denial all of which they are openly PROUD of.
Are there others that are the same way? Yes. It is best to start with the biggest group that's slam bang sold out on it.

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longtalldrink's picture

Intelligent people realize early on when something doesn't pass the smell test. They begin to organize and protest. Let's not forget that our common struggles unify us, and the power brokers rely heavily on dividing us and therefore conquering us. What they fail to realize is that once people have nothing else to lose, this is when they become dangerous to the status quo. History teaches us this fact. Oppressed people do not tolerate oppression for long.

“Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose.”
― Lance Conrad, The Price of Nobility

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Well done is better than well said-Ben Franklin

gulfgal98's picture

so we go as a nation. Every effort is being made to gut public education and commodify the educating of our children as a money making enterprise. Public school teachers are our last line of defense in ensuring our children can grow up to be productive and creative people. Once we have lost the public education battle to the corporatists, we have lost our future.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

Wink's picture

Teachers protesting bull$h!t
@gulfgal98
wages and conditions need our support backing them up at rallies. There in person, not watching on the teevee.

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

Lookout's picture

I'm a retired teacher. I can't speak for all teachers or all schools, but most educators are trying their best to help students...many if not most pouring their heart and essence into the effort. These teachers are marching in an effort to educate the public about the neglect of the overall system. Yes they want fair pay, and a decent retirement...but they also want their school to have enough funding to allow them to really teach. Will they awaken the people? It sounds like the real people are getting the message.

However our political system has been purchased by the oligarchs. They own the politicians and don't want to fund schools. The dumber the populous the easier to manipulate. School funding is a big pot of state money. So are teacher retirement accounts. Ching Ching. That's the hub of the conflict.

I'm proud of these educators, and I appreciate your thorough article gjohn

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”