Archives for category: Teacher Pay

#Red4Ed is still producing results in Arizona!

Voters approved a measure to raise the taxes of the wealthiest by 3.5% for the benefit of public schools.

Proposition 208 passed with 52% of the vote. It will produce nearly $1 billion annually for public schools. Fifty percent will be used to raise teachers’ salaries.

The “YES” vote on Prop. 208 will impose a 3.5% income tax surcharge on taxable annual income over $250,000 for single persons or $500,000 for married persons filing jointly.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is often called a Koch puppet because the Koch network donated heavily to his elections, denounced Proposition 208, which would increase taxes to raise teachers’ salaries. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stood by his side, presumably pleased with his attack on higher wages for the state’s teachers. He made his remarks while visiting a charter school and lauding charter schools for innovation.

Gov. Doug Ducey delivered a scathing rebuke of Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act, while visiting a school on Thursday with U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The proposal on November’s ballot would add a 3.5% surcharge on income tax for individuals with taxable income of $250,000 or more or couples making $500,000 or more. The revenue would go largely to raising school staff salaries.

“It would make us the equivalent of Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, or New York state or Washington, D.C.,” he said in response to a question about U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of the measure. 

Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Proposition 208 in a news release on Thursday morning. 

“Let’s address the decades of cuts to education funding in Arizona and invest in our schools, teachers, and kids,” he wrote in a statement. 

A poll released Thursday showed that the measure is in the lead among registered voters.

Ducey is opposed to new taxes which he says will harm small businesses and be bad for the economy.

Proponents of Invest in Ed say that the average tax increase for someone who earns from $250,000-$500,000 a year would be $120.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, a third-party state entity that analyzes the financial impact of ballot propositions, estimates that Proposition 208 would raise $827 million for education, about $100 million less than Invest in Ed’s initial estimate.

The measure would send the money to the following areas: 

  • 50% of the money would go to hiring and raising the salaries of teachers and other certified employees, such as counselors and nurses. 
  • 25% would go to hiring and increasing the salaries of student support staff, including classroom aides and bus drivers.
  • 12% would go to career and technical education programs. 
  • 10% would go to programs dedicated to retaining and mentoring teachers. 
  • 3% would go to scholarships for the Arizona Teachers Academy, which waives college tuition for teachers-in-training who commit to work in Arizona schools after graduation.

I like the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., for many reasons. I like the research it produces. But I most admire the fact that it is not sustained by the usual billionaires. It follows the facts.

In a recent report, EPI found that teachers pay a wage penalty for choosing teaching as their profession. They are paid about 20% less than others with similar levels of education. This makes it hard to attract new teachers and hard to hold on to teachers. If billionaire-funded “reformers” had spent their time advocating for higher wages for teachers, instead of spinning their wheels about phony evaluations based on student test scores (which have failed everywhere to improve teacher quality) or on merit pay (which has consistently failed for at least a century), they might have actually helped improve the schools. Their bogus efforts have undermined teacher morale and actually reduced the supply of people entering what is one of our most important professions.

The report begins:

As we have shown in our more than a decade and a half of work on the topic, there has been a long-trending erosion of teacher wages and compensation relative to other college graduates.1 Simply put, teachers are paid less (in wages and compensation) than other college-educated workers with similar experience and other characteristics, and this financial penalty discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to keep current teachers in the classroom.

This report was produced in collaboration with the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Teacher compensation is not just an issue of staffing: Effective teachers are the most important school-based determinant of student educational performance. To promote children’s success in school, schools must retain credentialed teachers and ensure that teaching remains an attractive career option for college-bound students. Our previous report (Allegretto and Mishel 2019) explains in more detail why providing teachers with a decent middle-class living commensurate with other professionals with similar education is not simply a matter of fairness but necessary to enhance student and economic performance.

We provide this update to our long-standing series on the teacher wage and compensation penalty as the U.S. continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic consequences. While the data in this paper are through 2019 and thus predate the pandemic, our analysis may provide useful insights as schools struggle to reopen. As a country we have yet to make the necessary investments, and pass the needed policies and procedures (e.g., universal mask requirements and testing, tracing, and isolating protocols) that would allow us to achieve some semblance of normalcy. Teachers and other school staff will continue the business of educating students in these trying times. They and their unions will play a critical role in moving forward in an effective and safe environment.

Key findings

  • The teacher wage penalty has grown substantially since the mid-1990s. The teacher wage penalty is how much less, in percentage terms, public school teachers are paid in weekly wages relative to other college-educated workers (after accounting for factors known to affect earnings such as education, experience, and state residence). The regression-adjusted teaching wage penaltywas 6.0% in 1996. In 2019, the penalty was 19.2%, reflecting a 2.8 percentage-point improvement compared with a penalty of 22.0% a year earlier.
  • The teacher wage penalty declined in the wake of recent teacher strikes but only time and more data will reveal whether teachers’ actions led to a decline and a turning point. The lessening of the teaching penalty from 22.0% in 2018 to 19.2% in 2019 may reflect pay raises enacted in the wake of widespread strikes and other actions by teachers in 2018 and 2019, particularly in some of the states where teacher pay lagged the most. Unfortunately, the data we have to date are not sufficient to allow us to identify the geographic locus of the improvements in teacher wages and benefits and any association with the recent wave of teacher protests and strikes. Only time will tell if this single data point marks a turning point in teacher pay.
  • The wage premium that women teachers experienced in the 1960s and 1970s has been replaced by a significant wage penalty. As noted in our previous research, women teachers enjoyed a 14.7% wage premium in 1960, meaning they were paid 14.7% more than comparably educated and experienced women in other occupations. In 2019, women teachers were earning 13.2% less in weekly wages than their nonteaching counterparts were—a 27.9 percentage-point swing over the last six decades.
  • The wage penalty for men in teaching is much larger than it is for women in the profession, and it too has worsened considerably. The teacher wage penalty for men was 16.6% in 1979. In 2019, male teachers earned 30.2% less than similar male college graduates who chose a different profession. This explains, to a large degree, why only one in four teachers are men.
  • While teacher wage penalties have worsened over time, some of the increase may be attributable to a tradeoff school districts make between pay and benefits. In other words, school districts may not be giving teachers raises but are instead offering stable or slightly better benefits, such that benefits make up a larger share of the overall compensation package for teachers than for other professionals. In 2019, nonwage benefits made up a greater share of total compensation for teachers (29.3%) than for other professionals (21.4%). In 2004, nonwage benefits share of compensation was 20.7% for teachers and 18.7% for other professionals.
  • The benefits advantage of teachers has not been enough to offset the growing wage penalty. The teacher total compensation penalty was 10.2% in 2019 (composed of a 19.2% wage penalty offset by a 9.0% benefits advantage). The bottom line is that the teacher total compensation penalty grew by 7.5 percentage points from 1993 to 2019.
  • The teacher wage penalty exceeds 20% in 21 states and in the District of Columbia. Teacher weekly wage penalties for each state, computed using pooled 2014–2019 data, range from 2.0% in Wyoming to 32.7% in Virginia. In 21 states and the District of Columbia teachers are paid less than 80 cents on the dollar earned by similar college-educated workers.

A Florida teacher posted this comment. It raises the question of whether it is fair to attract people to become teachers with promises that are later canceled by a nasty, brutish legislature. The legislature passed a law called “the Best and Brightest” that awarded bonuses to new teachers based on the SAT scores they recorded years earlier. It constantly thinks about how to attract new teachers but does nothing to retain the experienced teachers it has. What this teacher describes is the perfidious work of Jeb Bush and his cronies:

I was never a money person. If I was I would never have become a teacher. I honestly believed that we were paid what they could afford to pay us. Seems stupid now but I was a kid. I was a fool. Twenty years ago I signed up to be a teacher. I wanted to be a teacher. I went to college for it. I knew I would never be able to support a family. It was ok, I wasn’t interested in having one. When I first became a teacher, I was shown a “step” system of pay. I saw that every year you’d make a little more. When you finally reached 20 or 25 years in the system the pay took huge leaps higher. Some years as much as a $10,000 increase if you can believe it. I thought I’d be rewarded for loyalty.

That “step” system has long been abandoned. Now we receive increases of around 1.3% a year. I thought the worst indignity came when I actually made less money than the year prior. The state of Florida forced us to contribute 3% to our retirement. Our yearly salary increase wasn’t even that much. This latest indignity is worse. Florida passed a new law raising the minimum teacher salary. Wonderful for new hires and attracting talent. Not so wonderful for those of us that have put the years in. Now, after 20 years of dutiful service I make $5,000 dollars more than a 21 year old, fresh out of college.

I am absolutely and totally morally devastated. The system seems to now be designed to have a perpetual series of inexperienced teachers. I need help. I need for my story to be heard. What do I do? What can I do? They don’t care about me. Now I don’t care about my job. When they showed me that “step” schedule 20 years ago, I believed it to be a nonverbal agreement about how much I would make, roughly, in the future. I was a fool. If I knew then I would never have become a teacher. I feel conned, duped, and lied to and I just can’t take it anymore.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced a budget proposal that earmarked new spending on education, but no raises for teachers, whose pay is below the average for southern states.

For Louisiana public school teachers, a group that includes some of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ earliest and most avid supporters, the governor’s first post-reelection budget proposal has good news and bad news.

The good news is a request that the Legislature spend significantly more on education. The $32 billion spending package includes an additional $65 million to support K-12 schools, $25 million for early childhood learning programs and $35 million for colleges.

The bad news is that a certain line item is conspicuously missing: money specifically dedicated to raise teacher pay.

No raises has been the status quo for a long time now, with the notable exception of last year, when Edwards backed the first increase in a decade. Until Friday, every indication, both from Edwards’ campaign-year rhetoric and from the new reality of a budget surplus, was that it wouldn’t be the last.

It could be, at least for now. Rather than propose a specific raise and signal that Edwards would once again fight for it in the Legislature, his administration is now saying that any raises this year would have to come from the overall allocations the state makes to school districts. So while some teachers may benefit, there would be nothing across the board.

The governor’s top priority is early childhood education.

Low education spending and low teacher pay help to maintain Louisiana’s place as one of the lowest-performing states in the nation on NAEP.

 

North Carolina has critical needs that the state’s General Assembly has made worse. A court decision—called Leandro—requires the state to improve its schools. One of its recommendations is to:

provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. Working conditions and staffing structures should enable all staff members to do their job effectively and grow professionally while supporting the academic, personal and social growth of all their students.

 

Highlights of Findings

#1 Teacher supply is shrinking and shortages are widespread. Budget cuts have reduced the total number of teachers employed in North Carolina by 5% from 2009 to 2018 even as student enrollments increased by 2% during that same time period.

#3 Experienced, licensed teachers have the lowest annual attrition rates. Teach for America teachers, on the other hand, had the highest attrition rates. National trends show that teachers without prior preparation leave the profession at two to three times the rate of those who are comprehensively prepared.

#4 Teacher demand is growing, and attrition increases the need for hiring. The total number of openings, including those for teachers who will need to be replaced, is expected to be 72,452 by 2026….

Recommendations:
1.Increase pipeline of diverse, well-prepared teachers who enter through high-retention pathways and meet the needs of the state’s public schools.

2. Expand the NC Teaching Fellows program. [The General Assembly cut the funding of the NC Teaching Fellows program to prepare career teachers and transferred its funding to TFA.]

3. Support high-quality teacher residency programs in high-need rural and urban districts through a state matching grants program that leverages ESSA title II funding.

4. Provide funding for Grow-Your-Own and 2+2 programs that help recruit teachers in high-poverty communities.

5. Significantly increase the racial-ethnic diversity of the North Carolina teacher workforce and ensure all teachers employ culturally responsive practices.

6. Provide high-quality comprehensive mentoring and induction support for novice teachers in their first 3 years of teaching.

7. Implement differentiated staffing models that include advanced teaching roles and
additional compensation to retain and extend the reach of high-performing teachers.

8. Develop a system to ensure that all North Carolina teachers have the opportunities they
need for continued professional learning to improve and update their knowledge and practices.

9. Increase teacher compensation and enable low-wealth districts to offer salaries and other
compensation to make them competitive with more advantaged districts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting public schools through information,

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Teacher Pipeline

North Carolina’s teachers are dedicated and hardworking, and their professionalism has made our public school system a jewel among Southern states. North Carolina leads the nation in number of teachers who have earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Disappointingly, we do not compensate our educators accordingly. The average teacher salary was $53,975 for 2018-19, according to the NEA, $7,755 less than the national average of $61,730.

 

It is also critical to remember that this average includes the salaries of veteran teachers who receive longevity and master’s pay, which newer teachers do not. With reduced job security, low pay and no incentive to get advanced degrees, the appeal of a teaching job has been significantly reduced in North Carolina.

 

Enrollment in undergraduate education programs across the UNC system is down, negatively impacting our once vibrant teacher pipeline. There are 15 UNC system schools with teacher preparation programs, and all are reporting declines in enrollment in their degree and licensure programs. The severe shortage of math and science teachers and middle school teachers for all subjects is a critical and growing problem.

 

As the WestEd report shows, we must work to provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. For our students living in poverty, with little access to educational opportunities, an effective, experienced and qualified teacher is critical to their educational success. We must all work together to make this a reality.

 

We know that teachers and students depend on and benefit from our school support staff. These hardworking, valuable, dedicated individuals have been left out of pay increases for far too long. It is imperative we press lawmakers to pay them a living wage and start showing them the respect they deserve!

 

Leandro: A Recap

If you’re just tuning in, here’s a brief summary of Leandro and the recently released WestEd report. You can find more information on our website.

 

In 1994, in Leandro v. State, parents, students and school districts in low-wealth, rural counties filed a lawsuit alleging that students in these counties were denied their right to a sound basic education under the NC constitution.

 

The case affirmed that inequitable and inadequate school funding bars access to a sound and basic public education. In 2002, the court found that there was a violation of students’ rights to a sound, basic education and ordered the State to remedy this violation.

 

On December 10, 2019, the WestEd report was finally released confirming what educators and public school advocates believe: our public school system does not meet the educational needs of all children. High poverty, high needs school districts bear the brunt of these inequities.

 

The report estimates the state will need to spendnearly $7 Billion to properly address education funding. The report detailed the following critical needs. Over the next several weeks, we will be taking a deeper dive into each one.

 

1. Revise the state funding model to provide adequate, efficient, and equitable resources.

 

2. Provide a qualified, well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school.

 

3. Provide a qualified and well-prepared principal in every school.

 

4. Provide all at-risk students with the opportunity to attend high-quality early childhood programs.

 

5. Direct resources, opportunities, and initiatives to economically disadvantaged students.

 

6. Revise the student assessment system and school accountability system, and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools.

 

7. Build an effective regional and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools

 

8. Convene an expert panel to assist the Court in monitoring state policies, plans, programs, and progress.

 

What happens next? Public education advocates are waiting to see if: 1) Judge Lee will order the NCGA to fund WestEd recommendations and/or 2) Will the NCGA take action on their own to fund the recommendations? Stay tuned!

ICYMI

Highlights From Recent Education News ​

The State Board of Education is considering changes to how it approves contracts after North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson signed a $928,000 contract late Tuesday night without the board’s knowledge.

 

Lawmakers return Tuesday. Will they finally vote on a budget?

 

On the education front, NC can invest in early childhood education and “commit to North Carolina’s constitutional responsibility to deliver a sound, basic education.”
A Charlotte voucher school announced it would not open for the second semester, leaving 145 students in limbo. The school is a former charter school that closed and reopened as a private school.

 

State Superintendent Mark Johnson charged Wednesday that thousands of third-grade grade students have been improperly promoted to the fourth grade when they aren’t proficient in their reading skills.

 

In the 2020-21 school year, high school freshmen will be required to take an economics and personal finance course before they graduate. To accommodate this class, the State Board of Education adopted new graduation requirements Thursday that say high school students will take one U.S. history course, instead of two.

Impact of Charter Schools Webinar

Sun, Jan 19, 2020 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST​

Join us for an in-depth look at the impact of charter schools on the Northeast school districts in Wake County. Our panelists are the Wake Board of Education representatives for Northeast Wake County: Roxie Cash and Heather Scott. They will share data on Northeast Wake Schools and participate in a conversation about how to best balance school choice in public education without damaging the economic vitality of traditional public schools in the same geographic area.

 

REGISTRATION REQUIRED

 

Budget News

The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene January 14. Will they finally vote on a budget?

Leandro #2nd Recommendation:  Teachers Critical to Student Success

Before winter break, WestEd released their report  on the Leandro case. The report outlined 8 critical needs the state must address in order to fulfill its constitutional obligation to deliver a sound, basic education to all children.

 

The second critical need identified by the WestEd report is to provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. Working conditions and staffing structures should enable all staff members to do their job effectively and grow professionally while supporting the academic, personal and social growth of all their students.

 

Highlights of Findings

#1 Teacher supply is shrinking and shortages are widespread. Budget cuts have reduced the total number of teachers employed in North Carolina by 5% from 2009 to 2018 even as student enrollments increased by 2% during that same time period.

#3 Experienced, licensed teachers have the lowest annual attrition rates. Teach for America teachers, on the other hand, had the highest attrition rates. National trends show that teachers without prior preparation leave the profession at two to three times the rate of those who are comprehensively prepared.

 

#4 Teacher demand is growing, and attrition increases the need for hiring. The total number of openings, including those for teachers who will need to be replaced, is expected to be 72,452 by 2026.

 

#5 Salaries and working conditions influence both retention and school effectiveness.
Teacher attrition is typically predicted by the following 4 factors:

  • The extent of preparation to teach
  • Extent of mentoring and support for novices
  • The adequacy of compensation
  • Teaching and learning conditions on the job

The report explained that teacher pay, after climbing for many years, began falling in 2008. Findings also show that the amount of the local supplement paid to teachers does influence retention.

 

#6 Although there has been an increase in the number of teachers of color in teacher enrollments, the overall current teacher workforce does not reflect the student population. Many teachers of color enter through alternative routes, which have higher rates of attrition than more comprehensive paths. Additionally, teacher education enrollments dropped by more than 60% between 2011 and 2016 in minority-serving institutions.​

 

#7 Disadvantaged students in North Carolina have less access to effective and experienced teachers.

For students who come from under served populations, an effective, experienced and qualified teacher is even more critical to their educational success.

 

Recommendations:
1.Increase pipeline of diverse, well-prepared teachers who enter through high-retention pathways and meet the needs of the state’s public schools.

2.Expand the NC Teaching Fellows program.

3.Support high-quality teacher residency programs in high-need rural and urban districts through a state matching grants program that leverages ESSA title II funding.

4. Provide funding for Grow-Your-Own and 2+2 programs that help recruit teachers in high-poverty communities.

5.Significantly increase the racial-ethnic diversity of the North Carolina teacher workforce and ensure all teachers employ culturally responsive practices.

6. Provide high-quality comprehensive mentoring and induction support for novice teachers in their first 3 years of teaching.

7. Implement differentiated staffing models that include advanced teaching roles and
additional compensation to retain and extend the reach of high-performing teachers.

8. Develop a system to ensure that all North Carolina teachers have the opportunities they
need for continued professional learning to improve and update their knowledge and practices.

9. Increase teacher compensation and enable low-wealth districts to offer salaries and other
compensation to make them competitive with more advantaged districts.

 

It is anticipated the recommended actions would result in:

  • Increased number (5,000 annually) of in-state trained and credentialed teachers
  • Increase in teachers of color in the teacher workforce to better reflect the student population (from 20% to 40%)
  • Comprehensive mentoring and induction support provided for all first-, second-, and third-year teachers (approximately 15,500)
  • Competitive teaching salaries in all North Carolina LEAs
  • Teacher attrition statewide at 7% or lower
  • Increased number (annually 1,500) of Teaching Fellows awards
  • Increase in experienced, effective, and certified teachers in high-poverty schools
  • Improved teacher retention in high-poverty schools
  • Improved capacity in districts and schools to provide high-quality, job-embedded professional learning
  • Increased student achievement.

 

Read the full report here.

 

We must restore our teacher pipeline and make teaching a viable, attractive option for students considering career paths. The state must work to restore adequate teacher pay and support. It is also crucial that our teachers reflect the diversity of their classrooms. It will require lawmakers to work together to prioritize adequate funding public education.

 

This is where you can help. Talk to your community about the importance of this report! Tell your representatives in the NCGA how important it is to fully fund schools for all children. Stay tuned for more advocacy ideas from us and our partners in education advocacy!

Teacher Diversity

There has been a great deal of research in the past few years showing the many benefits of a diverse educator workforce. The benefits are both academic and socioemotional and prepare students for the world they will be working and living in.

 

An article from the New York Times states “The homogeneity of teachers is probably one of the contributors, the research suggests, to the stubborn gender and race gaps in student achievement: Over all, girls outperform boys, and white students outperform those who are black and Hispanic.”

 

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and American University​ found black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college—and those who had two were 32 percent more likely.

 

There are increasing numbers of students of color in our public schools, but the teaching force is still comprised of mostly white women. It is crucial that our state work to make teaching an attractive, tenable option once again and work towards diversifying our teaching staff.

Early Childhood Grant

The preschool years of a young child’s life are a crucial time in their social, emotional and cognitive development. A high-quality early education program sets up children for academic success. ​

 

On January 9, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will receive $56 million in federal funding over the next seven years to support children’s health and well-being, improve access to high-quality early learning for families across the state and invest in the state’s early childhood workforce.

 

The PDG grant invests in the people who shape young children’s healthy development – parents and early childhood professionals. It will help early childhood teachers build the skills needed to support children’s optimal development without having to leave the classroom. By providing job-embedded professional development and coaching, the grant removes barriers that make it difficult for teachers to pursue higher education.

 

In addition, the grant funds a partnership with the Smart Start network to expand access to Family Connects, a nurse home visiting program for parents of newborns; support for families as their children transition into kindergarten; and expanded access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers. This is the state’s second PDG grant. In 2018, the NCDHHS was awarded a one-year $4.48 million PDG planning grant.

 

Read the full press release here and view the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan here.

Candidate Forum

Public Schools First NC, the NC Parent Teacher Association, ​the Public School Forum of North Carolina, and the NC League of Women Voters are pleased to co-sponsor a candidate’s forum for the March primary for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction. This live screening will be held on February 6th, 2020 from 7 PM – 9 PM.

 

David Crabtree, WRAL anchor/reporter, will moderate the forum. The Republican primary candidates will be presented from 7pm-8pm and the Democratic primary candidates will be presented from 8pm-9pm.

 

We will be streaming the forum LIVE (provided by WRAL). You will find the link at wral.comcloser to the event. Please note that this a livestreaming event only, NO TICKETS available to the public.

 

We look forward to a stimulating exchange of ideas about the issues facing public education and hope you’ll join us.

Webinar- Legislative Update

 

Missed our webinar? Click here to listen

 

The NC General Assembly will reconvene on January 14, 2020. In the meantime, we have an update on the public education bills that passed this session and those bills still under consideration.

 

Legislators also provided an overview of funding so far for Pre-K to 12th grade education.

 

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Thousands of teachers in Florida are rallying at the state capitol today to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The Republican-dominated legislature has been handing out public monies to charter schools and for voucher programs, but ignoring the public schools that enroll 85% of the state’s students. Several of the key legislators are related to charter operators. Conflicts of interest are not a problem in Florida. The State Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran–former Speaker of the House–is married to a charter operator.

Bernie Sanders wrote a message of support to the teachers who are speaking out. It appeared in the Sun Sentinel. 

Every Democratic candidate should heed Senator Sanders’ advice (except, of course, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who wants more privatization, merit pay, and larger class sizes).

This week, tens of thousands of teachers from across Florida are rallying outside the state capitol to demand real support for their public schools. They are taking this action despite the outrageous threats from Republican officials to fire them just for standing up for their students. These educators are part of a massive nationwide movement, from Maine to California, that’s fighting back against years of underfunding, privatization, and draconian high-stakes testing. I am proud to stand with them in this struggle.

Florida educators have good reason to be angry. Their pay is among the lowest in the nation and far too many support staff live below the poverty line. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his fellow Republicans have refused to increase pay for veteran teachers, and yet just last year, they gave corporations half a trillion dollars in tax breaks. As a result, large numbers of teachers are leaving the profession and this year, more than 300,000 children entered classrooms without a full-time teacher.

The indignities and stresses of high stakes testing are another reason teachers are quitting in droves. Like in other states, educators are being made to teach to the test and schools are being forced to sacrifice important subjects like arts education. But in Florida, children are required to take their first standardized test within 30 days of beginning kindergarten and Governor DeSantis wants to extend harsh accountability requirements to preschoolers. That’s not only absurd, it’s also pointless given that testing such young children in this way does not yield reliable results.

Florida’s Republican leaders are also forcing children with severe cognitive disabilities to take standardized tests. This is downright abusive. In one case, the state required the teacher of a critically ill boy with cerebral palsy to regularly document his medical condition. They did not stop even when he lay in a coma on his deathbed. Sadly, the list of such horror stories in the state of Florida goes on and on.

Florida is ground zero of a school privatization movement intent on destroying public education. It has the largest private school voucher program in the country, and each year almost $1 billion in state money goes to private instead of public schools. These private schools operate with little to no accountability and in many cases their students’ math and reading skills have declined.

Moreover, almost half of the charter schools in the state are run by for-profit corporations. These schools perform no better than traditional public schools, yet they still benefit from public support. Between 2006 and 2014, more than a third of the Florida charter schools that received federal funding — almost $35 million — have either closed or never opened to begin with.

It is long past time we put an end to these attacks on public education. Under my Thurgood Marshall Plan, taxpayer money will be used to invest in our teachers and students, and not in corporate welfare. We will establish a national minimum salary of $60,000 for educators; triple funding for Title I schools; and strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) by ensuring that the federal government provides 50 percent of the support for students with special needs. We will combat privatization by eliminating school voucher programs and placing a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools. And we will put an end to high-stakes testing once and for all.

Betsy DeVos and her billionaire friends in the Walton and Koch families do not want any of this to happen. If it were up to them, we would continue to give corporations trillions of dollars in tax breaks and starve our public education system of the resources it needs to be the best in the world.

 

California Sunday Magazine published interviews with teachers about their role in striking, walking out, negotiating, bargaining.

It begins:

On February 22, 2018, some 20,000 teachers in West Virginia — many of them wearing red in solidarity — walked out of their classrooms. That April saw strikes in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma, as teachers vented their collective frustration in what became known as the #RedforEd movement. In early 2019, educators picketed in Oakland and Los Angeles, in districts across Washington state and Oregon, and again in Colorado. And this fall, educators in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district, took to the streets.

After years of system-wide underinvestment, educators are pushing back hard. They have married concerns about pay with their ability to adequately educate students . They have made a few gains — one or two fewer students in their overcrowded classes and significant raises in some cases. But many still see a long way to go, and as another election ramps up, the public will have to decide how much these issues matter. In these pages, we hear from teachers who made the decision to walk the picket lines and others who decided to stay put.

LeAnna Erls Delph is a veteran teacher of sixth grade students in social studies and language arts in Asheville, North Carolina. She is a member of the Governor’s Teachers Advisory Committee, is the North Carolina Association of Educators regional director for the far west, and is a member of the Red4EdNC advisory board.

She explains here why teachers owe it to their students, their communities, and their profession to become politically active.

On a recent Sunday morning, I woke up to see tremendous chatter on social media concerning the budget impasse in the North Carolina General Assembly. The discussion included the lack of educator raises, the failure to expand Medicaid, unacceptable working conditions, and a shortage of support staff. This discussion quickly evolved into the formation of a new social media group discussing the possibility of a large scale collective action or strike of North Carolina educators.

This kind of discussion is not new to me. I’ve been a sixth grade social studies and language arts teacher for 18 years, working my whole career in a diverse community confronted with significant economic struggle. I love my community, and they have always inspired me to advocate for my students and their families. Recently, I decided to take an Inquiry to Action class through the Western Region Education Service Alliance (WRESA) to earn continuing licensure credits and build my activist skills. Here, a small group of educators studied educator activism in both theory and practice.  Each week we discussed a different education-related activist tool, theory, and issue. The culminating project was to take our “inquiry” and put it into “action” in some way.

The group decided to focus on “making the invisible visible.” In other words, we seek to deepen critical consciousness — the notion that we go through life oblivious to the world around us on the largest scale. A famous example of this precept is the analogy of the fish in water. If you asked a fish what water is, the fish wouldn’t understand the question because it has a fish brain.

Joking aside, it is because the fish is completely immersed in the water and always has been. The fish just doesn’t notice because it is so “normal” and so ubiquitous. In human life, this would be like the systematic racism that we all live within. Or, it may be ideas that are simply taken as “common sense.” For educators, we may struggle to apprehend fundamental truths about our own environments. I believe that public educators swim in a sea of politics which is all too often invisible — so that is the concept I choose to render more visible. 

Most North Carolina local school boards have policies which hold that employees may not engage in political activities during the school day. However, because public schools are supported by public monies which are controlled by politicians, the very act of teaching, while not partisan, is an inherently political activity. In fact, North Carolina’s evaluation instrument for educators insists upon educators taking part in political activities. Standard 1 (Teachers Demonstrate Leadership) states, “Teachers advocate for schools and students. Teachers advocate for positive change in policies and practices affecting student learning.” What is advocating for policies if not political?  

Please open the post to see her wonderful infographics and finish learning her thoughts on teacher activism.

LeAnna is a member of the Resistance!

 

 

Thousands of teachers from across Indiana will rally in Indianapolis on November 19, seeking better pay and more resources for their students.

Indiana has one of the most reactionary state governments in the nation.

Over 100 districts will close or switch to e-learning for the day.

The state’s largest school district, the Fort Wayne Community Schools, announced that it would close because so many teachers will be joining the protest at the State Capitol.

Many will wear buttons remembering our dear Phyllis Bush, a founding member of the board of the Network for Public Education, a teacher activist and founder of the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, who died eight months ago but left behind hundreds and thousands of admirers inspired by her passion for public education. Phyllis’s wife, Donna Roof, and her many former students and friends will be at the rally on November 19, remembering the dedication, love, and wit that Phyllis brought to her role as a teacher and as an advocate for public schools.