Low pay and high tensions between education officials and state legislatures are nothing incredibly new, but large scale action is something that hasn’t been seen in far too long. In a nationwide wave of demonstrations like something out of their very own history books, teachers across the nation have marched on state capitols to protest, demanding more funding for education and higher pay for their services. Here is a short recap of the past and ongoing protests, chronologically.
West Virginia: Cited as the first organized teacher strike of 2018, a strike lasting two weeks forced legislators into providing ample compensation. West Virginia Governor James C. Justice signed a bill to give teachers a 5% pay raise. However, there was a catch; the funds for this raise were pulled from Medicaid. The governor did assure press that this would not damage the system in any way, but this wasn’t a purely perfect situation after all. No matter these looming concerns, this strike in particular fueled the movement that would sweep the nation.
Kentucky: Taking notes from their close neighbor, teachers in Kentucky walked out not too long after West Virginia saw their positive change. This strike saw a little less in direct fixes, only receiving a pension restructuring bill from the governor himself. But, the teachers would get a little satisfaction in the end, watching as the state legislature overrode a veto from the governor to provide $480 million tax dollars toward education, a substantial increase in funding.
Oklahoma: Moving west, Oklahoma teachers began their strike the same day as Kentucky, flooding their capital with homemade signs in a similar fashion. This action brought no change whatsoever, returning to classrooms after nine days of protesting, empty-handed. There would be no increase in pay, pension allocations, or any more funding for education in general.
Arizona: After one of the biggest defeats of their movement, Arizona teachers came out swinging, demanding a twenty percent pay raise. And the incredible thing is, they practically got just that. Last Thursday, Governor Doug Ducey awarded Arizonan teachers with a nine percent pay raise this year, increasing by five percent over the next two years. This was a heartwarming result, after seeing teachers in sleeping bags huddled around the state capital, holding candlelight vigils and anxiously watching the floor of the state legislature. Many teachers wanted more, including reducing the ridiculously student to teacher ratio and raises for support staff, but this success will be enough for now. Colorado looks to be the next state to capitalize (no pun intended) on their momentum.