Eric Blanc wrote a book about the teachers’ strikes titled Red State Revolt: The Teachers’ Strike Wave and Working-Class Politics.

He is in Minneapolis now covering the teachers’ strike that started last Tuesday.

He writes in The Nation:

Thousands of educators are on strike in Minneapolis, two years into a pandemic that has pushed public education to a breaking point across the country. With the future of education in unprecedented limbo, the stakes are high—and not just in the Twin Cities.

Public schools were in crisis well before Covid-19. Especially in predominantly non-white, working-class school districts like Minneapolis, decades of underfunding, privatization, high-stakes testing, and low educator pay made it increasingly difficult for teachers and support staff to provide the education their students deserve.

In the Twin Cities and beyond, the past two years have reversed Red for Ed’s political momentum and exacerbated structural stressors and inequities, resulting in increased educator outflows from the profession and increased familyoutflows from public schools. By late 2021, a quarter of teachers, and almost half of Black teachers, indicated in national surveys that they were considering leaving their jobs. Over the past 18 months, Minneapolis Public Schools have lost over 640 teachers and support professionals.

Schools have lacked basic resources necessary to address students’ mental distress in the face of pandemic conditions, the police murder of George Floyd, and subsequent social unrest. In line with a growing trend of progressive unions to “bargain for the common good,” one of the Minneapolis strike’s major demands is for every school to be provided with a social worker and counselor every day, as well as increased hiring of school psychologists. “As educators, we have been saying ‘What about the kids?’ for decades,” explains Greta Callahan, president of the teachers’ chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “And right now we’re at a place where we can no longer allow students to pay for the mistakes made by those at the top.”

Shortages of support staff, substitutes, and teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul have deepened the difficulties of those educators who remain. This is especially the case for educational support professionals (ESPs), half of whom are people of color. “If we’re going to talk about racial justice, we have to talk about how we treat everybody in our system,” explains Shaun Laden, president of the educational support professionals’ chapter of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “The district doesn’t treat our members of color and our hourly workers with the dignity and respect that they deserve.” Faced with increased work burdens and a less-than-living wage—many ESPs make as low as $24,000 a year—it is not surprising that Sahan Journal found a 22 percent vacancy rate for Minneapolis ESPs, with many choosing instead to work at McDonalds or as FedEx delivery drivers. Unions are demanding that the starting pay for 90 percent of ESPs be bumped up to $35,000.

Of course, teachers are striking for higher pay but much more is involved. Open the link and read on.