April 25, 2019

Why Teachers Are Taking to the Streets

Teacher morale has declined dramatically over the past ten years or so, resulting now in educators protesting in the streets, along with widespread teacher shortages, and far fewer college students choosing careers in education.

We start with the good news first, though.

PDK’s most recent poll found that support for teachers is at its highest in 50 years, with 66% of respondents saying teachers are underpaid. Moreover, 73% of them-taxpayers all–said they’d support a work-stoppage if it came to that.

Then there the rest of the story.

There are lots of reasons for teachers to take to the streets, front and center being money. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationwide, the average public school teacher’s salary stands at $58,000. In Oklahoma, it’s just $42,460, the lowest in the country.

That, according to a new Economic Policy Institute study, translates to teachers earning about 23% less than other college-educated workers; in other words, approximately $350 less per week.

On top of all that, there’s the quality factor, or, should I say, the perception of it. A recent Gallup Poll found that, while 70% of parents with school-aged children are satisfied with the education their kids are getting, just 43% of Americans in general think that’s the case.

And that, of course, begs the question: How come the difference in views?

In part at least, look no further than politicians affecting how schools work and the media running with the teacher bashing ball…

Bush’s answer to our perceived schooling woes was his bi-partisan No Child Left Behind (NCLB) back in 2002. Along with all students being tested annually in grades 3 through 8, all were expected to be proficient in both math and reading within 12 years. Never happened; couldn’t happen.

That was followed by the lofty-sounding, equally unrealistic ESSA” Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law by Obama in 2015, and still in force today. About that law, the U.S. Department of Education says: “ESSA includes provisions that will help to ensure success for students and schools.”

Among them:

· It advances equity… for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.

· It requires-“for the first time”-all students be taught to high academic standards…

· It ensures vital information is provided to all stakeholders via “annual statewide assessments that measure students’ progress toward those high standards.”

· “It helps to support and grow local innovations… consistent with our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhoods”

· It expands the administration’s investment in high-quality preschool.

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