Written and edited by Norm Scott:
EDUCATE! ORGANIZE!! MOBILIZE!!!
Three pillars of The Resistance – providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers. We link up with bands of resisters. Nothing will change unless WE ALL GET INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE!
The sad truth is financial austerity that has driven
governments at all levels to skimp on education has had plenty of
compliance, if not downright support, from centrist Democrats.
"Democrats in the state legislature spent
considerably more energy staving off further cuts to education, rather
than pushing for bold efforts to increase funding.", WDRB/screenshot
Surprising results from a new survey of teachers reveal the depth of
“financial strain” classroom professionals face. These include high
levels of college debt, stagnation of already subpar pay, increasing
housing and childcare costs, rising health insurance premiums and
prescription costs, and escalating out-of-pocket expenses for their own
More than half of the respondents resorted to second jobs to try to
close the gap between what their teaching jobs paid versus their actual
cost of living.
The revelation teachers are financially struggling wasn’t what was surprising about the survey. Recent news of teacher “red-state rebellions” in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentuckyand Arizona have
brought great depths of attention to the economic plight of teachers
who are walking off the job in Republican dominated states because of
years of education funding cuts. No, what was surprising about this
survey was the teachers weren’t in a red state at all; they were in
The sad truth is financial austerity that has driven governments at
all levels to skimp on education has had plenty of compliance, if not
downright support, from centrist Democrats who’ve spent most of their
political capital on pressing an agenda of “school reform” and “choice”
rather than pressing for increased funding and support that schools and
In a startling sign that teacher uprisings may move to purple and
blue states too, Colorado teachers recently left schools and stormed the
state capitol to protest their subpar wages – ranked 46th in the
nation, reports the
New York Times, and “rock bottom” when compared to other professionals
in the state. “Colorado has a Democratic governor,” notes the Times,
“and a Legislature split between Democrats and Republicans.”
Soon after their rally at the capitol, teachers in Denver, the state’s largest school system, announced a systemwide walkout on April 27. The next day, administrators in the state’s second largest district, Jefferson County, announced their schools would close a day earlier on the 26th in anticipation of teachers not showing up for work.
Since the Great Recession in 2009, Colorado has had one of the best performing economies in the nation, but school funding has increased only 3.4 percent above 2008 levels according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Much of the school funding woes can be traced to
the enactment of a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) constitutional
amendment in 1992 that severely limits school funding. Democrats have done little to try to repeal or devise workarounds to the amendment, and centrist Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper recently declared he “can’t imagine” TABOR being repealed.
Another school funding can Colorado Democrats keep kicking down the
road arises from a constitutional amendment, Amendment 23, passed in
2000 that was designed to boost and protect K-12
funding but was subsequently limited when state coffers shrank in 2009.
(Funny how amendments to increase school funding can be quickly undone
while those limiting funding can’t.)
In his final state of the state speech, term-limited Governor Hickenlooper called for more education funding but blamed “voters” for lack of action on that front. Then, his final budget proposed $5.5 million more for charter schools.
Subsequently, Democrats in the state legislature spent considerably more energystaving
off further cuts to education, rather than pushing for bold efforts to
increase funding. What ultimately passed with “broad bipartisan support”
barely raises funding but also mandates school districts share
locally-raised tax money with state-created charters.
Saying No to Centrism
The Colorado teachers’ plans to walk out of school is a strong sign
they’ve had it with state government inaction on funding. There’s also a
sign many Colorado Democrats feel that way too.
At the most recent state assembly of the Colorado Democratic party,
delegates sent a strong rebuke to the state chapter of Democrats for
Education Reform, demanding the organization cease to use “Democrats” in
its name, Chalkbeat reports.
The platform amendment, passed overwhelmingly by the delegates,
opposed the group’s intentions of “making Colorado’s public schools
private or run by private corporations or becoming segregated again
through lobbying and campaigning efforts.”
This rebuke has significant ramifications for the Democratic party
and the direction of education policy not only in Colorado but
“Democrats for Education Reform, founded more than a decade ago,
was at the center of a split within the Democratic Party over school
reform that began to play out with the 2008 election of President Barack
Obama,” explains Valerie
Strauss at the Washington Post. The organization’s embrace of
traditionally Republican education policies – including charter schools,
vouchers, standardized testing, and enforced closure of neighborhood
schools – instead of funding schools and supporting teachers, had the
effect of wiping away “the traditional partisan divide over education
policy,” she argues.
Now there are growing signs Democrats want to bring those traditional partisan distinctions back.
A recent analysis by Brookings spotlights North
Carolina and Mississippi as the most likely states for the next teacher
uprising. Other candidates include Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, New Mexico,
South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.
It’s interesting that analysis, likely completed a few days before
trouble started brewing in Colorado, doesn’t have that state on the
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