Should teachers be allowed to go on strike? | The Tylt
Should teachers be allowed to go on strike?
Teachers went on strike throughout the country in 2018. From West Virginia to Colorado, teachers demanded higher wages (teachers' pay has declined two percent from 1992 to 2014, according to Forbes), smaller class sizes and increased school funding. In January of 2019, more than 30,000 L.A. teachers joined the picket line.
...at its heart, the standoff between L.A. Unified and United Teachers Los Angeles is a struggle over the future of public education.
For this district, in particular, teachers have been negotiating with district officials for over 20 months to no avail. With so much at stake, teachers have little choice but to protest using one of the few levers they have left: going on strike. According to Caputo-Pearl, the circumstances are dire:
Consider the conditions within the district. Class sizes often exceed 45 students in secondary schools; 35 students in upper elementary grades; and 25 students in lower elementary grades.
The district does not have nearly enough counselors, psychologists or librarians to give students the support they need, and 80% of schools don’t even have full-time nurses. Unnecessary standardized testing is pushing the arts and ethnic studies out of the curriculum.
After nearly two years of negotiations, teachers are simply doing what they can to make the changes they deem necessary, and the students are at the heart of every goal.
According to CNN's Holly Yan, some parents claim that this temporary solution is nothing more than a daycare system for students, not school. Parents are obviously in favor of the same things teachers are in favor of: Higher pay, smaller class sizes, and more counselors and nurses. But when it comes to the strategy to achieve these goals, many parents do not see a strike as an answer.
Ultimately, the kids are the ones who suffer from teacher strikes, despite the positive intentions of the teachers themselves. According to Yan, 600,000 students in the L.A. area "have no idea when they'll see their teachers again." Parents are pulling kids out of school and as a result, benefiting no one. One parent in particular, Andrew Krowne, is keeping his four children home for the duration of the L.A. teacher strike, afraid for his children's safety in the midst of such a logistical mess:
'It's just a sheer overwhelming number of children versus adults,' he said. 'I'm not risking my children's safety.'
There is recent proof that teachers going on strike works. After all, society can't function for long without teachers, and strikes are the perfect way to demonstrate the impact they make and why teacher demands have substance. According to the Utility Workers Union of America, the West Virginia teacher strike–which started the 2018 wave–was a success:
The statewide strike, which led to a nine-day shutdown of public schools across West Virginia, ended when the governor and the state legislature agreed to give teachers a 5% raise and to put a stop to planned raises in health insurance premiums.
By going on strike, teachers are demanding things that will improve students’ education. Class size alone plays a huge role in a child’s ability to absorb information and get the extra attention they need. In addition, an increase to teachers’ salaries is long overdue. Not only is a pay increase warranted and deserved, but it will only help to recruit bright, new teachers, rather than steering them away to other careers.
According to the nonprofit education site, The 74, the teacher strike in West Virginia should have been declared illegal. Teachers have short-term options that can send just as powerful of a message to their districts:
A two-day walkout sends a serious message to state lawmakers, but it’s not likely to result in any lasting harm to the school schedule or anyone’s wallet.
Teachers are essential employees to society and therefore should not be allowed to go on strike at will. As one person writes for Debate.org:
Holding the education of children hostage is a low blow. [Teachers] should become an essential service as hospital, police, fire department and so forth are.