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.