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John Thompsonbout the aftermath of last spring’s teacher uprising in Oklahoma.
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“Teachers who walked off the job this spring protesting poor salaries and inadequate school funding in multiple states are winning in the court of popular appeal. According to a new survey: “In the six states where there were wide-scale teacher strikes and walkouts—West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado—63 percent of respondents favored raising teacher pay. Public support in those states jumped by 16 percentage points since last year.”
“The strong sentiments expressed by those in the teacher walkout states carried over to support for teacher pay raises from survey respondents across the country, with nearly half of those provided with information on average teacher salaries in their state saying pay should increase. Support for higher teacher pay increased from a year ago among both Democrats and Republicans.
“In Oklahoma, the teacher revolt prompted 112 current or former teachers and family members of teachers to run for local, state, and federal office. More than seventy of those advanced in primary elections.
“But since the walkout and the primaries, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME decision essentially imposed “right to work” on teachers across the nation, and anti-union “reform” groups and politically conservative organizations have followed up with campaigns encouraging teachers to leave their unions.
“Also, with a new school year starting, local teachers unions find themselves back in a familiar, but uncomfortable situation of having to collaborate with school systems and government leaders in the now super-charged political environment created by the walkouts.
“Teachers have a good shot at continuing to build popular support and even at winning at the ballot box this November, but they need to stay unified in the face of new challenges to their unions. Key to this is confronting an emerging divide over whether their movement is being led from the top down or the bottom up.”