Friday, May 18, 2018

NYT - Why the Teacher Walkout Movement Won’t Reach Every State - Dana Goldstein

Not a lot of analysis here -- but some interesting points about the states revolting and why others may not - the way schools are funded.Goldstein does contrast the Jersey City one day strike. Are there ideas out there about possible job actions here in NYC? Flu season can be pretty rough -- maybe a blue flu in a school with an abusive principal?
In North Carolina, as in the other five walkout states, union membership is optional for teachers.....
What state could be the next to have a teacher walkout? There have been scattered rumblings of protest in Nevada and Louisiana. And there are at least five additional states that meet the major conditions for a statewide action: centralized governance and funding, and below-average teacher pay and per-student spending. The states are Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and New Mexico.

-----walkout states: Its state government plays an unusually strong role in funding education and setting its priorities, often superseding the influence of school districts.

This strong-state model can include a larger-than-typical role for state governments in funding schools, a state-mandated salary schedule for teachers or efforts to equalize funding between poor and rich school districts.

Because of such policies, the states are, in a way, ripe for large-scale labor actions, despite having weak public sector unions. Unlike some Northeast states where teachers in one town can earn $20,000 more than those in a nearby city, low-income and middle-class districts in the states that have had walkouts have similar teacher salary and school funding challenges, building solidarity — and political leverage — across hundreds of miles.

---  Most states have schools that are funded more or less equally from state and local coffers, with voters making many financial decisions close to home.
---- Dana Goldstein, NYT,Why the Teacher Walkout Movement Won’t Reach Every State 
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/us/teacher-walkout-north-carolina.html

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Teachers marched in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, as North Carolina became the sixth state where educators have left their classrooms to protest low pay and school funding.CreditCaitlin Penna/EPA, via Shutterstock

DURHAM, N.C. — The nationwide teacher protest movement spread to a sixth state on Wednesday as thousands in North Carolina rallied at the Capitol for higher pay and more money for schools. It was the first mass walkout for teachers in the state.
In the months since the movement began, teachers have walked out in deep-red states and purple states; in states with booming economies and ones that are struggling; in states where school funding scrapes the bottom, and others where the numbers are closer to the national average.

Despite the diversity and seemingly endless energy, the movement has limits. Most states have schools that are funded more or less equally from state and local coffers, with voters making many financial decisions close to home. But North Carolina shares something with other walkout states: Its state government plays an unusually strong role in funding education and setting its priorities, often superseding the influence of school districts.

This strong-state model can include a larger-than-typical role for state governments in funding schools, a state-mandated salary schedule for teachers or efforts to equalize funding between poor and rich school districts.

Because of such policies, the states are, in a way, ripe for large-scale labor actions, despite having weak public sector unions. Unlike some Northeast states where teachers in one town can earn $20,000 more than those in a nearby city, low-income and middle-class districts in the states that have had walkouts have similar teacher salary and school funding challenges, building solidarity — and political leverage — across hundreds of miles.

In states where education financing is locally driven, teacher labor actions usually look more like the one-day strike that occurred in March in Jersey City. Several thousand union members, protesting rising health care costs, stayed out of work and later came to an agreement with the school board. The rest of the state was not affected.

In North Carolina, where teachers from across the state wore red and filled the streets of the capital on Wednesday, the state provides 58 percent of the funding. Raleigh sets a salary floor of $35,000 for beginning teachers. Districts can use local money, collected largely from property taxes, to add to that, with supplements varying between nothing and over $8,000 a year.

Teacher salaries across the United States have failed to keep pace with inflation since 2009, falling by an average of 4 percent, according to data from the National Education Association, the national teachers’ union. The drop is steeper in the six walkout states — Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

 In North Carolina, inflation-adjusted salaries are down 9 percent since 2009. Teachers earned an average of $9,000 less than the national average of $59,000 during the 2016-7 school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. North Carolina is also the top user of foreign teachers brought in via the J-1 temporary visa, a trend that has accelerated because of stagnant pay.

After Republicans took control of state government in 2013, North Carolina ended the estate tax and lowered corporate taxes as well as some personal income taxes.

The actions, plus the recession, meant schools took a hit. Since 2009, the budgets for supplies, textbooks and school technology have been slashed by about half, according to the Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonpartisan research group. And a greater share of teacher compensation has been dedicated toward pensions and health care costs.

Symone Kiddoo, 27, is a school social worker in Durham. On Tuesday, she packed and distributed hundreds of donated meals to students at Southwest Elementary School and Forest View Elementary School. Ms. Kiddoo is the sole social worker for both schools, where over half of the 1,400 students come from low-income families. The food was for students to eat when school was closed for the walkout.

Ms. Kiddoo spends her days responding to behavioral incidents, like a student overturning a table, and counseling children through crises, like the death of a parent. She makes sure students who can’t see the chalkboard get glasses, and she maintains a food pantry and a clothing closet for children in need.

She earns about $42,000 a year and works a second job as a pool attendant at the Y.M.C.A. She said she was participating in the walkout not primarily because of low pay, but for more mental health funding to hire social workers, school psychologists and counselors.

“We are scrappers,” she said, able to get a lot done with few resources. Still, she said it would be easier if social workers were assigned to one school at a time.
As in Arizona, the last state to mount a widespread walkout, traditional public schools here have been challenged by the expansion of charter schools and private school vouchers.


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