Teachers Emerge As Strong Political Force for the Public Good in States with Austerity Budgeting

janresseger

In an extraordinary NY Times piece, Dana Goldstein profiles the plight of public school teachers in Oklahoma, where salaries are third-lowest in the United States. Only in Mississippi and South Dakota are salaries lower for teachers. Oklahoma teachers are preparing to strike as their West Virginia peers did earlier this month.

“When teachers… (in Oklahoma) last went on strike, in 1990 for four days, they won a raise and limitations on class sizes. But that was the last time the Oklahoma Legislature raised taxes. In 1992, anti-tax activists successfully organized a ballot referendum to require a three-quarters majority in both the state House and Senate to raise new revenue and today, Oklahoma is one of 13 states that require a supermajority to impose new taxes… (E)ver since the referendum passed, it has become an insurmountable barrier for attempts to increase school spending.  The 1990 class size reductions were scrapped for…

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