Controversy Erupts Over Teachers’ Union Activities

( – Teachers unions appear to be striking and walking out over salaries despite claiming otherwise. Critics are claiming that recent teacher’s strikes the advertise themselves as being about activist issues like racial inequality in education, affordable student housing, and even reparations to black people for slavery, are in reality simply a means to garner more money for the teachers themselves.

A recent action in Portland, Oregon seems to illustrate the point. The teachers in that city have an average annual salary of $87,000 to work in the classroom for 192 days. The teachers walked out of the classrooms just after Halloween and spent the majority of the next month on picket lines. The Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) launched the strike despite their students having a far higher than national average absentee rate, lower than average test scores, and a massive decline in student enrolment.

The union even went so far as to claim that better pay and happier lives for teachers will have downstream benefits for students. They further asserted that “teacher working conditions” are also “student learning conditions” as a means to justify their strike and ever higher salary demands. In the end the Portland teachers did get a 14% pay increase, pushing most into six-figure annual salaries for those 192 days of work, while the students were forced to fall even further behind because they missed a month of school. Most districts have still not caught up to their lockdown-related student shortcomings.

Teachers in some California cities also walked out and were picketing throughout most of November. Studies in that state show that school board members are routinely re-elected not for how well students perform, but instead for how well they negotiate pay raises for teachers. None of the ideological, “common good” claims or other student-based claims had any statistical relationship to school board member re-election when measured against getting teachers a pay hike.

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