The Year of the Teacher Strike

2018 may go down in history as the year of the teacher strike.  Strikes are not a new phenomenon, of course, but they have become a far less common tool in recent years, especially in the world of education.

But as conditions for teachers and students got worse and worse around the country, politicians and school boards began to see what happens when you push too far against public education:

Teachers push back, communities support them, and public education wins.

In the past eight months, teacher unions in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahama, Colorado, scored significant victories via strikes, and Seattle teachers pushed their district right to the brink.

Why were they so successful? A lot of the press about the strikes centered on just how low teacher salaries are in many places in the country (teachers losing their houses, having to get second jobs, etc.). And the fact is, people overwhelmingly have positive feelings about teachers and don’t want to see them suffering.  But it’s important to note that strikers were pushing for greater funding for schools overall, including things like more counselors and nurses.

And while strikes are a pretty extreme tool, the success of their efforts point to a bigger point, one we’ve made again and again. It sometimes seems that the forces against public education are so immutable that there is no point even trying, we have the power to make change happen when we are united.

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