Many say authorities have reneged on agreements and schools are still facing low pay, poor working conditions and shortages
The new school year has just begun and teachers across the US are preparing to continue the wave of strikes that made 2018 one of the biggest years for workers protest in a generation.
From Nevada to Illinois teachers are preparing to escalate a campaign that generated major victories last year, but that many say have been reneged on by local authorities and have still left teachers facing insurmountable problems.
Oklahoma was one of the states that led last years strikes and where teachers made significant gains. But a year on teachers still feel stretched to breaking point as they struggle with low pay, poor working conditions, and hostile Republican legislators.
We did get an average $6,000 pay increase. That money was well received by teachers, we were extremely happy about it, but you have to keep in context that, based on the data, nothing has changed, said Larry Cagle, president of Oklahoma Teachers United and a high school English teacher in Tulsa.
Oklahoma still suffers from a teacher shortage, class sizes remain too large, and Republicans opposed to publicly funded education still dominate state government despite some significant electoral victories in unseating legislators opposed to teacher demands, he said.
My take home pay is $2,480 a month. Its just not enough money. Im sitting in a parking lot right now ready to go in to donate my plasma. I have to donate blood. I have to. I have kids in college, Cagle added.
This years strikes look likely to start in Nevada, a state where right-wing lobbyists have fought a pitched battle with teachers unions to defund state education.
Teachers in Clark county, Nevada, the fifth-largest school district in the US with about 18,800 educators, have set a strike date for 10 September despite the fact that the strike would be illegal under state law if an agreement on a new contract with the district cant be reached by then.
We have the largest class sizes in the nation. Class sizes are out of control, said Kristin Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Schorr Elementary school in Las Vegas.
Nigro claimed Clark county school district has repeatedly reneged on contracts, and failed to pay promised raises to teachers over the past few years.
We are doing this because weve been pushed to the brink, said Nigro. Were the fifth largest school district in the nation and we dont even have a set curriculum in place to vertically align our standards so these kids are successful.