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Striking Start to the New School Year


Each year September brings with it the end of summer, and with it the transition from the long Halcyon days of vacation and into the school year. A transition often accompanied by the wailing of countless students across the country who would do anything for just a few more days of freedom. Over the past few years this reluctance to begin again the school year has been seemingly mirrored sporadically across the country by rolling teacher strikes which have disrupted the beginning of the school year. In 2018, the #RedforEd strikes won higher pay or other improved benefits for teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Chicago saw its own set of teachers strikes in 2019, and just last year teachers from Minneapolis and Sacramento struck as well. In fact, between 2007-2019, there have been over 700 teacher strikes with the majority occurring after 2017! This year has been no different with teachers striking in Columbus Ohio and Philadelphia Pennsylvania in August, and now an ongoing and spreading teacher strike with over 6,000 workers is taking place in Washington. Unlike many of their students these teachers are not striking because they do not love their jobs or find their vocation essential. While teachers are often advocating for higher pay in their strikes, we also see that most often teachers demands center on improving learning conditions for their students: by decreasing class sizes, or requesting proper air conditioning and heating in old, failing buildings. Teachers want to do their jobs and provide for their students, so it is one of the great shames America bears for how poorly it's educators are treated and how little we invest in education. This untenable state of affairs is not new. Stories of low teacher pay, teachers buying their own school supplies, teachers working second or third jobs just to make ends meet have become commonplace in modern America. Instead of receiving the help they so desperately need, teachers have instead been rebuffed by their school districts, and made the focal point of our political culture wars with threats of violence and state censure to deal with on top of shrinking budgets oversized classrooms and too small salaries. Thankfully despite strong headwinds teachers are not alone in this fight. Not only are they among a rising tide of worker strikes across various sectors, Americans support for teachers is the highest in decades, with over 70% of Americans believing that educators should receive a pay raise. This perennial underfunding is not a mistake, conservative lawmakers and their corporate overlords with blue collar and service workers have long sought to undermine free public education so as to keep a docile and ignorant population which they can control in their minority rule. Passionate teachers, in a well-funded public education system, are some of the best vanguard against the long-term success of this extremist ideology. Teachers need our support not just at the ballot box in November with political power, but with a growing surge of economic power from labor strikes and Union drives to conscious consumer activism. So, join us each Tuesday, as we build that economic engine that will help level the playing field for teachers and students alike, revitalize our public education system, and safeguard it for all generations of Americans. #DSOT #UPM

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