Telling it like it is

Teachers are finally taking action to protest the lack of investment in public education that has led to their low and stagnant salaries, lack of adequate supplies for students, and poorly maintained facilities. To add insult to injury, teachers are constantly vilified by right-wingers as lazy moochers who complain despite having cushy jobs and their summers off. Teachers have long been fed up with this state of affairs but now they are getting angry.

They went on strike successfully in West Virginia and today is the second day of a strike in Oklahoma with Kentucky likely to follow suit and rumblings of discontent in Arizona, Alaska, and New Mexico.

Today while driving I heard a teacher being interviewed on the radio (I unfortunately missed her name) and she pointed out that some of the places where the legislators have been pressured into giving raises are taking the money out of the teacher’s retirement system. She was asked by the interviewer about what choices the legislators had, because they had to find the money to pay for the extra salaries somewhere and the only other option was to raise taxes, which the interview called ‘the suicide option’.

I was delighted to hear the teacher say that they should choose the suicide option. She pointed out, rightly, that the public has got used to wanting everything while paying for nothing, a sentiment that I would love hear being expressed a lot more. She predicted that once the pensions were gutted, salaries would become stagnant again, so taking money from that source was going to make things worse. She pointed out that in order to fund private retirement plans (as some suggest) you needed to have a decent salary and that was not possible on teacher salaries as they currently exist in many states. If you want to retain good, experienced teachers, you have to pay them accordingly. Otherwise you will have teacher churn, with people using it as a stop gap until they find something that pays more.

Fortunately, many parents and students seem to be sympathetic to the teachers’ case.


  1. jrkrideau says

    From the other side of the border (the one without the wall--just a few drones and so on) I cannot understand how it has taken so long for teachers to react to the abuse, low pay, lousy facilities and totally insane educational policies that seem to be destroying large portions of the US education system.

    From what I have read about the Oklahoma situation, if I were a teacher there, I be checking job ads and housing costs in a lot of other states.

    And does not Kansas have have billboard advertisements from another state soliciting teachers to apply for jobs?

    Countries like China or India must be watching this in total bewilderment and possible delight.

  2. Matt G says

    I saw a report recently that Republicans are becoming less educated. Can’t say I’m surprised.

  3. Mano Singham says


    NPR had an interview with Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. He moved to neighboring Texas to take a very similar post in a school there because he said he loved what he does but just could not manage on the salary that Oklahoma pays.

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