United States teachers speak

This 27 April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Indiana Cuts Average Teacher Pay By TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS

In this Majority Report clip, most jobs give raises for good work. Indiana teachers get pay cuts.

“Pay for Indiana teachers has suffered the biggest inflation-adjusted drop since 1999-2000, according to the Department of Education. They now earn almost 16 percent less.

Average annual pay is about $50,500, slightly lower than the national average. Indiana is having trouble finding enough qualified teachers to fill its classrooms, with some pointing to pay as a culprit.

“People won’t be as interested in going into a field where they will have to take a huge lifetime pay cut”, said Partelow of the Center for American Progress.”

Read more here.

By George Marlowe in the USA:

“We may walk out because we need drastic change”

Indiana teachers rally against low pay, attacks on public education

11 March 2019

On Saturday, more than a thousand Indiana teachers rallied in the state Capitol building in Indianapolis to oppose nearly two decades of declining teacher pay, cuts to public education and the growth of privatization. Like states across the country, there is growing support for a statewide walkout of teachers in Indiana …

The boiling over of teacher opposition in Indiana is part of a wave of teachers’ strikes throughout the United States and internationally against the attacks on public education and the growth of social inequality. In 2018, US teachers participated in major statewide strikes, starting with the wildcat strikes in West Virginia, which spread to Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and other states. Since the beginning of the year, more than 75,000 teachers have carried out strikes or sickouts in Los Angeles, Denver, West Virginia, Oakland and Kentucky. …

Teachers in Indiana confront conditions no less devastating. They face more than two decades of salary declines, low pay for new teachers, rising healthcare costs, overcrowded classrooms, broken down schools with elevated lead levels and widespread teacher attrition. In addition, state officials, including former Governor and now US Vice President Mike Pence and his successor Eric Holcomb, have expanded charter schools and voucher programs to divert scarce public school resources into private hands. Many Indiana teachers work more than two to three jobs to survive.

Despite teachers’ strikes being illegal in Indiana, as is the case in West Virginia and many other states, there has been a growing mood of militancy among teachers and support to join their fellow teachers across the US in a statewide strike. …

Indiana teachers rank near the bottom of teacher pay nationally. From 2000 to 2017, Indiana teachers saw their pay fall by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. According to statistics compiled by the NEA, the average teacher in Indiana makes around $50,554 in 2017 (adjusted for inflation) while they made around $59,986 in 2000. According to Indy Star, the lowest paid teachers in 82 districts make less than $35,000 a year and in 110 other districts they make between $35,000 and $37,000 a year.

Indiana teacher salary decline

According to a report that came out last year by the Indiana University Center, Indiana ranks last in per-student funding. In the 2017–2018 year, funding per student amounted to $6,673, with the national average around $11,934. With inflation factored in, teacher pay in Indiana has not recovered since the financial crisis of 2008–2009. In 2009–2010, K–12 education funding was around $8.46 billion. In 2018, it was about $9.45 billion, but when adjusted for inflation is actually lower than spending from 2009–2010. States across the country cut education spending dramatically after the 2008 financial crash. While the Obama administration bailed out Wall Street, hundred of thousands of teachers were laid off.

Charter schools have proliferated across the state since 2011 with more than 93 schools that enroll more than 44,000 students. Indiana also has one of the largest private school voucher programs, ranked 46th out of 50 states in the US. The state has been a center of school privatization efforts with the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

The Republican-controlled state legislature and Governor Holcomb are currently proposing education budgets for the next two years that will do nothing to address the crisis in education in Indiana, even as the government has $1.9 billion in reserve funds. The state House proposed to increase K–12 education spending by a meager $461 million through 2021. The House also proposes to allocate a one-time $150 million payment from the state’s reserve funds to pay for pensions of teachers hired after 1996, supposedly to free up local school districts who currently pay pensions out of their budgets. Governor Holcomb proposes an even lower spending plan of $432 million through 2021 and $140 million in a one-time payment for pensions.

Both proposals by the House and the governor are meant to force local districts to fund minuscule teacher raises through enacting budget cuts, including to administrators and to other school workers. Local districts will be forced to make cuts to transportation and food service to meet requirements for 85 percent of school district funding going to teacher pay. …

Many teachers expressed their views about the conditions they face. Michelle, a teacher from southern Indiana, said, “I’m a single mom with two kids and have a master’s degree. I qualify for free and reduced lunches for my kids and have to work a second job at a restaurant for the extra money. I’ve been teaching eight years and make $42,000.”

“My health insurance has gone up,” Michelle continued. “I pay more than $550 a month and it is increasing every year. I’m getting less now than I did two years ago. I also have student loans I pay every month with $33,000 in debt. Teachers are in poverty. My friend who has been teaching as an aide for 16 years makes $11 an hour. Nobody wants to be a teacher anymore. You get to a point where you don’t have any more choice because it comes to survival. We may have to walk out because we need drastic change.” …

While teachers and other workers are told there is no money for education, the political establishment and the corporations continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the working class. As one teacher from Indianapolis pointed out, both parties found over $600 million to subsidize the building of the Lucas Oil sports stadium for the owners of the professional football team, the Indianapolis Colts. …

Indiana teachers should prepare a statewide strike and link up with teachers across the US to prepare a nationwide strike of teachers and workers to defend public education and oppose austerity and social inequality.

This 11 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Indiana schools could get money to train teachers to use guns

So, Donald Trump‘s Republican party in Indiana does not want money for education and teachers, but does want money for guns. Like Donald Trump himself claims to ‘solve’ the problem of school massacres with still more guns. While in Indiana, a teacher prevented a school massacre, not with a gun, but with a basketball

Like the United States political establishment prefers spending money on nuclear weapons, endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia etc. etc., to spending it on education, medical care etc.

TEACHERS SHOT IN SCHOOL DRILL Four teachers were led into a room, told to kneel against a wall and then shot with plastic pellets “execution style” during an active shooter training at an Indiana elementary school in January, according to the Indiana State Teachers Association. They suffered welts and bleeding. [HuffPost]

Several Indiana teachers in the city of Monticello were recently shot “execution style” with plastic pellets in an active school shooting drill, provoking widespread outrage. The drill was conducted in January by the local sheriff’s office in partnership with the school district. The violence meted out against these educators by law enforcement officials took place in the midst of a wave of mass strikes by teachers across the United States and internationally: here.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Teachers speak out at Indianapolis rally to defend public education

By our reporters

11 March 2019 …

Teachers chanted “strike!” multiple times during the rally. In comments to reporters from the World Socialist Web Site teachers spoke about their conditions and the struggle to defend public education.

Lisa, a first-grade teacher from Washington Township for 15 years, said, “I love teaching students and being there to witness the growth that occurs among our children and to witness when they tap into their own strength and intelligence as we try to nurture that along.

“I’m here because I support public education. The growth of charter schools and privatization is weakening the public school system. It’s an attack against democracy. Public education is the one way that ensures everyone has access to upward mobility, and now that ladder is being shaken.

“As a whole, teacher pay is not increasing, it’s stagnating. Meanwhile, everything else is rising in prices. [With] the growth of the charter schools, private schools and school vouchers, less and less is going into the public school systems and everyone is suffering as a result.

“If you look at the Indiana budget, public schools receive 2 percent of the budget while charter schools receive 9 and 10 percent. There’s not equity in the funds. There was a growing sentiment years ago, with movies for example like ‘Waiting for Superman’, on how to basically make money out of public schools, and they’ve found a way.”

Another Indiana teacher pointed to the vast sums of money being pulled out of education to fund corporate-backed projects. “Our state is not funding education. My kids don’t get pencils. I teach chemistry and the kids can’t get the chemicals they need to make the reactions. It makes for a very boring class because we’re underfunded.

“When Lucas Oil Stadium was being built in Indianapolis, there was a front-page article in the Indianapolis Star that said the stadium had $600 million in public funds going to it. When you flipped the page over, an article said the IPS [Indiana Public School] system froze teachers’ salaries. So, we know where the money is going.”

A group of teachers from West-Del High School in Gaston, Indiana, spoke on the multiple hardships facing teachers.

One teacher said, “We have not had an appreciable raise in over a decade. My student textbooks are over a decade old. I can’t even tell you the number of programs that have been cut in our school because the state has reduced our funding and never replaced it.

A group of Indiana teachers at the Capitol

Another teacher said, “I spend $800 to $1,000 a year just on supplies for my classroom that I can’t get from the school.”

Another said, “We work near Ball State University, which is the number one teacher school in the state. I was literally told by my school superintendent two years ago, ‘If you don’t like it, you can leave. We can hire someone else.’ Because they can hire someone straight out of college for a lot cheaper than hire one of us.

“And they quit paying us to get our teachers master’s degrees. It’s so damn expensive now that I’ll never pay it off. A lot of teachers now are having to work second and third jobs just to pay the bills.”

Lesley, an Indiana public school teacher for 25 years, attended the rally to support her fellow teachers, especially newer teachers who are bearing the brunt of the attacks on public education.

“At the time I started, teaching was considered a noble profession. I love teaching and I would do it all over again. But teachers today don’t have the chance to go up the pay scale. The reason I’m here today is to support the younger teachers because I’ve seen so many teachers come into teaching and say they can’t live off the salary.

“I did my taxes yesterday. I made less last year than I did the year before. The cost of everything is going up. When I look at a young family, let’s say they start out at $37,000 and they’re paying $10,000 for health insurance, who can afford that? Especially if you’re the main breadwinner.

“Some of these teachers I know have been working for years and are not making more than $40,000 a year. When you think about how much their education costs and monthly student loan bills, some of them are going without insurance because they can’t afford it while some of them can’t pay their student loans.”

Catherine, a teacher from Fort Wayne, Indiana, attended the rally with Samantha and Laura, two teachers from south-central Indiana. Catherine told the WSWS, “When they decided years ago to create a business model for the schools that is when I saw the problems begin. Kids are not a business. There is so much money spent on testing and no money for guidance counselors and other things we need to have in place.

“They got rid of the STEP model for raises and there’s been essentially no raises since then. There is no incentive to go back to school for a master’s degree at this point because you are not going to be compensated for it.

“People would rather go work at Target as a manager because they know that they can make more money that way without a degree than become a teacher. There are even teachers who think about leaving to work at Target because they think they can make more money there.”

A retired teacher supporting his colleagues

Samantha said, “I went back to school for my master’s and now they are making me pay $12,000 to go back again to get a new master’s because my first degree did not meet the requirement they need for the four classes I’m paid $300 to teach. It’s insane. And all administrators at our school in the Fort Wayne area got a $10,000 raise this year. Our superintendent makes as much in salary as the governor, $117,000.

“We are not paid enough to be able to do our jobs. You can’t expect us to go through all of that schooling to then be treated like babysitters, and we are, even though there are babysitters who make more money than we do.”

Michelle, a teacher from South Bend, spoke on the role of both Democratic and Republican parties in gutting public education. In South Bend, she said, “The Democrats are in charge unlike the majority of the rest of Indiana, which is Republican.

“They [Democrats and Republicans] only want to come together when it involves shaking you down. When it comes to helping you, the two parties never seem to agree on anything, and that prevents us from getting any answers to our problems.”

By Naomi Spencer in the USA:

Kentucky teachers speak against attacks on public education

11 March 2019

Teachers in the US state of Kentucky are holding discussions and seeking to find a way to press forward their fight for pension rights and the defense of public education …

A series of sickouts have shaken several districts across the state, with teachers assembling in the state capital Frankfort to oppose a raft of reactionary bills moving through the General Assembly. The first job action, on February 28, involved 8 districts.

A second action spanned two days last week and closed schools in Louisville’s Jefferson County Public Schools—the largest district in the state—and expanded to include the surrounding counties of Oldham, Bullitt, and Meade. …

Parents also spoke out in defense of teachers. One post said, “STAND STRONG TEACHERS, DON’T BACK DOWN!! Thank you for fighting for MY kid!!” Another said, “I am not sending my kids to schools today. This is unfair and is taking their voices away. If JCPS does not stand for what’s right I will. All you superintendents care about is the money, not about the teachers. Heck! I’ll donate if I have to! Just let their voices be heard and don’t mute them!” …

The teacher expressed frustration about this orientation of essentially lobbying the legislature rather than extended strike action. When asked what they thought would work to force the legislature’s hand, they replied, “Sickout until they cave.”

Another Eastern Kentucky teacher, from Bath County, agreed. “There is a small but vocal group that supports the idea of public funding of charter schools (supported and funded by among others the Koch brothers) and the governor [Republican Matt Bevin] is with this group.

“KEA has to be specific about what the non-negotiables are and what we’ll accept. And then we have to do like [the Carter County teacher] said. We sick out until our demands are met.”

“One-day sickouts do nothing,” the Bath County teacher added. “The only leverage we have is to shut down the schools. That inconvenience is the only thing that will make them care that we don’t agree with what they’re doing.”

Asked about the overwhelming opposition to the legislation, including a statement signed by all 173 superintendents across Kentucky, the teachers said administrators were speaking out of both sides of their mouths. While they voiced opposition in the media, district officials were ratcheting up pressure on school workers not to walk out.

“We got an email from our superintendent on the eve of the last sickout telling us not to,” the Bath County teacher said. “It was promoting disinformation, saying that the call to action was just a scam.

“If superintendents were really on board, not only would the districts shut down, but every teacher in the district would be on buses headed to Frankfort as a unit. Then we would be noticed.” They added, “Twelve thousand angry educators united in purpose would be hard to ignore.” …

That is why Kentucky teachers should organize rank-and-file committees, consisting of teachers, support staff, parents and students at every school and community to prepare a powerful fight back. …

The city of Louisville is a microcosm of the whole country. Billions are found for tax breaks for Ford, UPS, and corporate giants, while Democrats and Republicans claim there is no money for social needs.

Last month, the city’s multimillionaire Democratic Mayor Greg Fischer warned of “devastating” cuts due to an expected $65 million budget gap over the next four years. These would result in staffing reductions in nearly every Louisville Metro Government (LMG) department, including fire and ambulance services, as well as closing library branches, fire stations, health clinics, community centers, pools and city golf courses.

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