Even though we have collective bargaining and local contracts, we know the struggles faced by our colleagues in Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma and everywhere else in the country where educators are rising up in protest. Stifling standardized tests. Aging textbooks and technology. Shrinking take-home pay for school employees. Lack of respect for our profession. And systematic shortchanging of students and their education.
Across the country, educators, parents and students are standing up in defense of public education. Here in the home state of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos – where we know how badly her policies have failed students – we must raise our voices to tell lawmakers three simple things: Value Students. Respect Educators. Fund Our Schools.
That’s why, starting next week, every Wednesday we’re asking MEA members to #WearRedForPublicEd.
And, beginning on Wednesday, May 9, we need to hold Wednesday worksite walk-ins to show we’re in this fight together for our students and our profession. In Arizona, these walk-ins – where employees gather before the school day for brief remarks and then enter the building together – were a way to build unity and momentum.
Interested in helping to coordinate a walk-in at your building or worksite? Contact your local MEA UniServ office to find out how you can help.
Working together – educators, parents, community members and students – we can start to raise our voices in defense of public education.
Value Students. Respect Educators. Fund Our Schools. We should demand nothing less for our students now as the school year winds down and Lansing lawmakers debate next year’s education budget – and in November when we vote for new leaders for our state.
Arizona educators’ decision to walk out of schools comes after weeks of #RedforEd walk-ins across the state and a disingenuous budget proposal from the governor, which was not supported by actual funding.
With demonstrations from West Virginia to Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Colorado, funding for public schools could become one of the top issues in this year’s midterm elections.
In Arizona, teachers earn just 63 cents on the dollar compared with other college graduates—the widest pay gap in the nation. The gap is 79 cents in Kentucky, 67 cents in Oklahoma, and 75 cents in West Virginia. In Michigan, the figure is 83 cents on the dollar.
It’s a gap that is abated by collective bargaining, according to a 2016 analysis which found overall in 2015, “teachers not represented by a union had a 25.5 percent wage gap—and the gap was 6 percentage points smaller for unionized teachers.”
Parents and other concerned citizens are joining the movement, speaking out against the fiscal austerity that has for years robbed public schools and students of resources. In planning local walk-ins, MEA is encouraging that you work with local parent groups, as well as non-MEA employees and administrators to make events successful.