To The Editor:
As someone who has worked closely with many teachers over three decades with the Illinois National Education Association affiliate, I believe the vast majority of teachers hate striking. They use the move as a last resort to what they see as completely unworkable situations. The current wave of strikes and walkouts in a handful of states (“Teacher Strikes Show Power in Numbers,” May 9, 2018) has produced some success, with lawmakers meeting demands for teacher raises and more education funding. But we can’t ignore the fact that teachers’ demands stem from states’ systematic cuts to public schools, which makes teaching and learning for teachers and students increasingly untenable.
At the same time, teachers’ ability to bring professional voice to policy venues has also been significantly reduced in many states. (The current Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 case before the U.S. Supreme Court is just one example.) It is in the public interest to support the rights of teachers to collectively organize and to have public venues in which to do so.
There should also be orderly and effective processes in place for dialogue and shared decisionmaking, such as interest-based problem-solving, which my own organization encourages. Without effective venues and processes, educators—whose profession is at risk—may resort to more extreme advocacy measures on behalf of teachers and students.
Jo Anderson Jr.
Consortium for Educational Change
A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2018 edition of Education Week as Teachers Deserve Advocacy Channels