Teacher strikes benefit educators, students

Emma Honkola, Reporter

Teachers will withstand almost anything. On a daily basis, they have to deal with rowdy children, papers to grade, and over-involved parents.

What won’t teachers withstand? Low wages and low school funding. And they shouldn’t have to.

In the past three months, teachers from five different states have participated in strikes to gain higher wages and demand that state governments invest in education.

So far strikes have occurred in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado. These states have the lowest teacher wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the lowest, West Virginia, having an average salary of $45,240 a year. They also have some of the lowest averages of annual per-pupil spending, according to 2018 statistics from USA Today, with Arizona at $8,131 and Oklahoma at $9,227.

Compare this to California, which has an average teacher salary of $78,711 and an average annual per-pupil spending of $10,291, and the difference becomes apparent.

Opposers of the walkouts have said that the strikes will hurt students’ education, but neglect what really hurts education. Outdated textbooks. Faulty equipment. Cutting art and music programs. Teachers who aren’t paid enough for the weight and difficulty of their jobs.

Teachers are a cornerstone of society. Not only do they teach school curriculum, they also teach life lessons. They educate, inspire and shape and mentor future leaders and innovators.

Sadly, lawmakers fail to see this. In the past 40 years, teacher salaries in the affected states have actually decreased. According to The Denver Channel in Colorado, lawmakers created a bill to counteract the strikes: fine teachers and put them in jail for six months for speaking out.

The bill was later pulled, but the action still stands. The message sent to our educators, the people that we trust with the instruction of students’ education, safety, and wellbeing, is inherently a negative one.

Every single teacher participating in one of the many teacher strikes around the country is completely justified. Teachers deserve better. Students deserve better.

When teachers are underpaid and schools are underfunded, students’ education suffers. Children are not able to learn in a classroom without updated technology, enough supplies for every student, or even basic necessities like chairs or bathrooms that work.

What people are failing to see is that these strikes are not just to benefit teachers, but also to benefit the children of our country. These aren’t just strikes for better wages and conditions, they’re strikes for a better future.