by Sam Hieb
The McClatchy editorial boards put their heads together to hash out a proposed multi-day teachers strike. It was a split decision—the News & Observer said heck yea teachers should strike while the Charlotte Observer heck no they shouldn’t strike.
The N&O’s Ned Barnett says:
North Carolina’s public school teachers know math and history and the math and history of public education in North Carolina over the past eight years tell them the same thing: It’s time to walk.
The math is plain: School funding was cut during the Great Recession a decade ago and has not returned to anything near adequate. A consultant’s report prepared for the judge overseeing the Leandro school funding lawsuit says that North Carolina needs to spend an additional $8 billion over the next eight years to bring public education up to a decent quality.
The history is equally clear. Since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011, public schools have taken a pummeling. It hasn’t been just a lack of funding. It has been a lack of respect.
…While the Observer’s Peter St. Onge says:
It’s not hard to understand why North Carolina teachers are frustrated. They’re underpaid, embarrassingly so. Their latest raise is stalled in a standoff between the Republican legislature and Democratic governor. Teachers deserve more, and they deserve better.
But should they strike for it?
It’s surely tempting, with Republicans bragging about teacher raises yet ignoring teacher pay rankings. It surely would be satisfying, too, to raise their voices above the squabble in Raleigh and get everyone’s fuller attention by walking out of some classrooms.
But if the ultimate goal is to get money, then the best path for teachers is to gain the political upper hand. A strike might do the opposite.
….The fastest way to lose that momentum is to turn North Carolinians against you. While many might sympathize with teachers, at least some who side with educators now would see a walkout as an illegal action, an extreme measure and, yes, a liberal union move. Republicans certainly would paint a work stoppage that way in the walkup to a critical November election — one that has the potential to bring teachers closer to a friendly N.C. legislature.
The proposed strike is also about increased Medicaid funding. It’s worth noting, however, what a hardship canceled school days are for single, hard-working parents who must arrange childcare. Those are the very people a strike would ostensibly help.