The Sage

Teacher’s Wages and Strikes

While California may pay their teachers fairly, all educators across the nation deserve fair pay for their work.

Teachers+in+North+Carolina+marched+at+their+capital+Raleigh+on+Wednesday%2C+May+16th+wearing+matching+red+shirts+and+carrying+posters.+North+Carolina+teachers+joined+many+other+states+in+marching+for+fair+wages%2C+benefits%2C+and+better+education+funding.
Teachers in North Carolina marched at their capital Raleigh on Wednesday, May 16th wearing matching red shirts and carrying posters. North Carolina teachers joined many other states in marching for fair wages, benefits, and better education funding.

Teachers in North Carolina marched at their capital Raleigh on Wednesday, May 16th wearing matching red shirts and carrying posters. North Carolina teachers joined many other states in marching for fair wages, benefits, and better education funding.

Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Teachers in North Carolina marched at their capital Raleigh on Wednesday, May 16th wearing matching red shirts and carrying posters. North Carolina teachers joined many other states in marching for fair wages, benefits, and better education funding.

Reilly Cornwall, Staff Writer

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From Arizona to Colorado to even West Virginia, teachers across the country have been striking and protesting for better pay and more education funding these past few months.

One of the most recent protests happened on Wednesday, May 16th in North Carolina. Thousands of teachers missed school to storm the state capital in Raleigh, wearing matching red shirts to protest for better pay and more per-student state funding in schools.

Many of these strikes were organized by teachers themselves, but others were organized by state teacher unions. Here in California, we have the California Teachers Association.

“As far as striking, I don’t like striking because there’s only one group that suffers and that’s the kids. But in unions, that’s the nature of unions sometimes. You try to negotiate in good faith and sometimes the last straw is you’ve got to strike,” said Sage Creek US Government teacher Thomas Bloomquist.

While striking may seem like an extreme measure to take, the statistics in many of these states tell a different story. It’s nothing new to hear that teachers are underpaid, but the average American teacher — when compared to similarly educated professionals — makes less than 60% of what the professionals make. Over the past two decades, teachers’ salaries have fallen by 1.6% (adjusted for inflation). 

While striking may seem like an extreme measure to take, the statistics in many of these states tell a different story.”

The teachers with the lowest average pay can be found in the states of West Virginia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and South Dakota, many of the states that have had the most protests during the last few months.

Things are so dire in Oklahoma that many teachers are choosing to resign this year after their walkout failed to change the minds of the local legislature. Many teachers there are forced to work multiple jobs in order to earn enough to make a living and are frustrated with the lack of classroom funding.

In comparison, California has one of the highest average teacher wages. Thomas Bloomquist, who’s worked as both an administrator and teacher at several schools in California for the last 28 years, agreed that it was a fair wage.

“[It] would depend on which district you’re in. Some districts pay more than other districts, that’s not the state of California; it’s all up to each individual district, but I think we’re paid fairly,” said Bloomquist.

While California may pay their teachers fairly, all educators across the nation deserve fair pay for their work. Education is vital to the development of our children into successful, responsible adults.  As teacher wages have dropped in many states over the last decade, so has overall education funding. This means overcrowded classrooms, teachers buying school supplies out of their own pockets, and laid-off staff members.

California may have some of the highest paid teachers but overall education funding is still low. California was ranked 41st in the nation for per-student spending in schools in 2016-2017.

“Obviously as a teacher, I believe that education funding should be a top priority in all states,” said Bloomquist.

Even California has a long way to go before students and teachers get the funding and support they deserve.

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Teacher’s Wages and Strikes