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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity | The Nation

Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity | The Nation:

Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity

The strikes aren’t just about pay. They’re a rejection of tax cuts for the wealthy and a rallying cry for public goods and services.

In less than three months, rank-and-file teachers and educational support staff in five states—West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona—have turned the entire country into their classroom. They haven’t just pushed for—and won—better pay and working conditions for themselves. They’ve also mounted a direct challenge to decades of bipartisan tax cuts for corporations, helping us all understand what austerity means. And by championing a raft of policy proposals to redistribute wealth away from the 1 percent and back to the working and middle-class, they’ve shown us how austerity can be defeated. As Emily Comer, a middle-school Spanish teacher who was a leader in the strikes in West Virginia, put it, “The phase we are in now—to win a real, progressive solution to the health-insurance crisis—forces us to dream bigger. This isn’t just about our healthcare plan. It’s about rebalancing the power of workers and corporations in our state.” 
Remarkably, these strikes have garnered overwhelming support from the public, despite years of well-funded attacks on teachers unions. In a recent NPR/Ipsos poll, just one in four respondents said they think teachers are paid enough, and three-quarters said teachers have the right to strike. Remarkably, this support cut across party lines. “Two thirds of Republicans, three-quarters of independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats” support the teachers’ right to strike, the poll showed. 
The most recent walkouts have shifted to western states. On April 26, 50,000 teachers and their supporters march through Phoenix in 100 degree heat. That same day, thousands of protesters descended on the capitol of Colorado.
Every walkout has resulted in victories, some more than others. In Kentucky, educators forced the governor’s veto of new taxes to be overturned, providing some additional funds for schools. But they fell short of preventing the conservative legislature from weakening their pension plan. In Oklahoma, while educators failed to stop a raft of tax cuts and increase overall funding, they still won their first raise since 2007 by $6,000 a year, which by is huge by local standards. In Arizona, the teachers won a 9 percent immediate raise, with Governor Doug Ducey pledging 11 percent more to achieve what he calls the 2020 deal, a 20 percent pay raise Continue Reading: Teachers Are Leading the Revolt Against Austerity | The Nation:
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