Yesterday, tens of thousands of teachers walked out of classrooms in both Oklahoma and Kentucky, many of them gathering at their respective capitols, to demand more school funding and fairer wages. These aren’t the first teachers who have taken to the streets to fight for their students and their schools, as teachers walked out last week in Arizona. All of these strikes follow the West Virginia teachers’ strike, which ended successfully, with a five percent pay increase for all public school teachers in the state.
Teachers have historically been underpaid and schools under-resourced, but something seems different this time. Teachers have gained not only the support of unions, but also parents, students, and school administrators who all recognize it’s time to support, train, and pay teachers like professionals. And, there’s signs to indicate that similar strikes might pop up in states across the country. While teachers in these four states are some of the lowest-paid in the nation, a new report from Vox shows that teacher salaries are essentially falling, and teachers are underpaid in every state. Moreover, a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights the devastating hits school funding has taken in the past decade—leaving schools with crumbling infrastructure, outdated textbooks, and increased class sizes.
For too long, teacher strikes have been framed by conservatives as teachers vs. students. But that is simply not true. It’s time that we all stand behind these teachers as they fight for better conditions for the students and themselves.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Town Hall Project. Today, there are several town halls happening around the country, from Senator Mike Crapo in Idaho and to Representative Bob Gibbs in Ohio. To organize your own town hall, check out this helpful guide. Then, check out ResistanceNearMe.org to find out about town halls and other events happening near you!
Deportation Quotas. A new memo issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) aims to require federal immigration judges to complete 700 cases per year “in an attempt to speed up deportations.” Performance evaluations for judges—who are DOJ attorneys and not truly independent adjudicators—would be based around the speed with which they close these cases. This latest change—coming on the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to refer multiple board of immigration cases to himself to curb due process—is just another attempt by the Trump administration to target immigrant communities, as seen in Trump’s comments that “DACA is dead,” and his spreading of fear around caravans coming to the border. Even before this new rule, immigration courts aren’t considered to be prime examples of fair justice. Check out John Oliver’s latest episode highlighting the absurdity and injustice that too often occurs in the immigration court system.
State Media? An alarming video published by Deadspin has “drawn renewed scrutiny to what critics see as the media conglomerate’s years-long efforts to inject conservative-tinged coverage into local markets.” The video shows local TV news anchors from across the country reading the same script about “fake news”—one of Trump’s favorite lines to use on Twitter and on the campaign trail. Why were all the anchors saying the same thing? They all work at news stations owned and operated by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which hired a former Trump official and campaign surrogate, Boris Epshteyn, as their chief political analyst. The terrifying uniformity of these news stations—being fed lines by a conservative corporation—eerily resembles state-run media in other countries. It’s especially bad when the Commander-In-Chief legitimizes Sinclair, while maligning widely-accepted neutral news outlets.
Women’s Progress. Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to turn back the clock for women, several states have taken action to protect women’s rights. These successes only happen because of the work of state champions. Tell your story here to continue to keep this momentum up. Here are just a few of the most recent wins:
- The New Jersey Assembly and Senate passed a comprehensive equal pay bill that will provide important new protections for workers. The bill has been sent to the new governor for his signature. Once signed, the new law will prohibit pay discrimination for substantially similar work based on gender and other protected characteristics, provide stronger remedies for victims of pay discrimination, and increase transparency around pay by requiring state contractors to report compensation data broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity.
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that will strengthen the state’s existing equal pay laws.
- Governor Inslee also signed #MeToo legislation to help ensure employees can disclose sexual harassment in the workplace, and limit the ability of employers to require employees to keep silent.
- Utah Governor Gary Herbert approved legislation that “requires the state to create a Medicaid family planning program for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces.”