‘Shut it down” became students’ rallying cry throughout the halls of academia and across the nation’s college and high school campuses during the late 1960s. The call and walkouts were in response to the Vietnam War and domestic injustices.
In the past month, we have seen the same strategy being employed not only by students, but by underpaid teachers in various parts of the United States. West Virginia teachers frustrated by low pay and poor working conditions took action and walked out, forcing its own union’s hand in what is called a “wildcat” strike. One month later they had won.
Now teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona are picking up the torch of their West Virginia brethren. In Oklahoma, teachers might get up to a $40,000 yearly annual income after 10 years!
Many teachers not only work multiple jobs, before and after school, but often rely on social services and local food pantries to support their own families. Out-of-pocket and unreimbursed expenses for classroom supplies to enhance their students’ learning experiences is the norm in many parts of the country.
Those who chose to become teachers love and value children. They are a crucial, interdependent link in the process of instilling values, knowledge and a sense of community in young people.
There is a saying that goes, “My family has a good doctor and dentist we pay very well, a good lawyer we pay very well, a good accountant we pay very well, and my children have good teachers—and we really appreciate it!” Teachers deserve much more than our appreciation.
E.G. Singer lives in Santa Rosa.
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