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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Solidarity with Striking Oklahoma Teachers [feedly]

Solidarity with Striking Oklahoma Teachers
https://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/solidarity-with-striking-oklahoma-teachers/

Austin Democratic Socialists of America Statement of Solidarity

With Striking Oklahoma Teachers

As history has taught us, collective action is imperative in the fight to win a better world for working class people. For the last four decades, labor power has been on the decline as its strength has been continually eroded by capitalist interests. The current wave of teacher strikes is a reminder that even with unions weakened under Right To Work laws and a multitude of other attacks, we can win when we organize and fight in solidarity.

In light of this, Austin DSA fully supports the Oklahoma teacher and school staff shutdown of public schools. Teachers and education employees are standing together in unprecedented numbers to demand improvements in worker pay. They are also demanding additional investments for public education for their students.

The Oklahoma Legislature has failed to invest in teachers and in student learning. This disinvestment has created a crisis in the public schools in Oklahoma.  Due to lack of funds,schools in 91 districts are only open 4 days a week—a 20% reduction in classroom learning every week. Administrators from superintendents to principals have joined teachers and school employees in over 100 school districts to shut down the schools and head to the Capitol to demand change.

Oklahoma teachers have not had a raise in 20 years.  Oklahoma is ranked 50th in teacher pay. The abandonment of the public schools has been led by Republican majorities in the Legislature and the Governor's mansion. But it is not just a Republican problem.  Democrats have failed to exercise leadership on progressive tax plans and haven't been up to the task of addressing the growing education funding crisis in Oklahoma.

This disinvestment is similar to the conditions that led to the historic teacher strike in West Virginia in February.  Oklahomans are inspired by the lessons of the massive uprising, uniting teachers, school employees, parents,and the broader Oklahoma community. West Virginia teachers and their allies  demanded and won badly needed investments in public education in teacher/staff salary and in relief from skyrocketing healthcare costs. But it wasn't just teachers out for themselves; West Virginia teachers demanded, and won, raises for every state worker in West Virginia

We support the OK teachers' just demands for decent raises, not just for the current year, but the coming 3 years as well. The legislature needs to do more to invest in student learning, technology, and school facilities. To address critical levels of teacher turnover, teachers deserve a long-term commitment to fair pay.  A one year raise does not make up for 20 years of neglect. To pay for this investment we urge Democrats to work with unions and the rank and file teacher movement to raise revenue not through regressive taxation but through progressive taxes on the wealthy, increased taxes on the oil and gas industry, and the closing of business tax loopholes as well.

Finally, we believe that this is an important battle in the fight for labor rights, equitable quality education, and health justice more broadly.  This is a crisis in West Virginia and Oklahoma, but it's also a crisis in Texas as well. In fact, it's a crisis in the entire United States, and only by standing together in the face of capitalist disinvestment can we overcome the broader assault on workers.. DSA believes that pay raises aren't enough, and pledge to work towards a broader solution including broad union rights, expanded access to quality public education, and a Medicare For All system in which everyone is provided the highest quality healthcare, free at the point of service.

– Austin DSA Co-Chairs Glenn Scott and Dave Pinkham


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