Mapping the Movement to Dismantle Public Education - 2018-06-04
The ongoing wave of teacher strikes across the US is changing the conversation about public education in this country. From West Virginia to Arizona, Kentucky to Oklahoma, Colorado to North Carolina, tens of thousands of teachers have taken to the streets and filled state capitals, garnering public support and racking up victories in some of the nation's most hostile political terrain.
Even though the teachers who have gone on strike are paid well below the national average, their demands have gone beyond better salary and benefits for themselves. They have also struck for their students' needs — to improve classroom quality and to increase classroom resources. Teachers are calling for greater investment in children and the country's public education system as a whole. They are also demanding that corporations, banks, and billionaires pay their fair share to invest in schools.
The teachers' strikes also represent a major pushback by public sector workers against the right-wing agenda of austerity and privatization. The austerity and privatization agenda for education goes something like this: impose big tax cuts for corporations and the .01 percent and then use declining tax revenue as a rationale to cut funding for state-funded services like public schools. Because they are underfunded, public schools cannot provide the quality education kids deserve. Then, the right wing criticizes public schools and teachers, saying there is a crisis in education. Finally, the right wing uses this as an opportunity to make changes to the education system that benefit them — including offering privatization as a solution that solves the crisis of underfunding.