Teachers Take Action on Stagnant Salaries, Soaring Health Costs, Shortchanged Schools

Angela Green teaches kindergarten at Mill Creek Elementary School in Shively, Kentucky. Ninety percent of the students are eligible for subsidized lunches, and school budgets can be tight. That’s why, as she says, “Any time we’re going to be doing anything special, all the materials are bought by me. Poster board, art supplies, I buy them all. I buy Play-Doh and books for my library in class.”

Stories like Green’s explain why teachers across the country are taking action for raises, respect for themselves, and more resources for their students. They’re encouraged by the successful strike initiated by West Virginia teachers, and they’re restless because, across the country, teachers’ pay is falling or flat-lining while their health insurance costs are increasing.

  • Fighting Pension Cuts in Kentucky. Kentucky teachers have rallied at the State Capitol against pension cuts proposed by the Republican-controlled state Senate. And they were outraged when GOP Governor Matt Bevin called the state’s teachers, whose service and self-sacrifice are exemplified by Angela Green, “selfish and short-sighted.”
  • Ten Years Without Raises Not Okay in OK. After 10 years without pay raises, Oklahoma teachers have warned they’ll strike on April 2 if the state legislature doesn’t act. Lilly Lyon, a junior high school Spanish teacher, sent legislators nine years of pay stubs, explaining that, because of her stagnant salary, “I work two jobs after school, and I have a roommate who shares my house expenses.”
  • Addressing Health Insurance Costs in NJ. Some 3,100 teachers in Jersey City went back to work after a one-day strike now that the school system has agreed to address rising health insurance costs.