Washington State teachers got a bitter civics lesson this spring, as legislators refused to implement fully plans to reduce class sizes and increase pay for teachers that were overwhelmingly endorsed by voters in statewide referendums last fall.
Washington Education Association
members responded with a May Day lesson of their own: More than 5,000 teachers, classroom aides, bus drivers and custodians walked out of Puget Sound-area schools in protest. Their one-day strike was followed by walkouts in school districts across the state, and union officials say mounting anger could escalate to statewide action. The new militancy mirrors a rise in teacher activism nationwide, which comes at a time of mounting cynicism about whether the new “education President” will significantly increase aid for schools. Senator
dismissed Bush’s education bill as “a charade” and lashed out at Congressional Democrats in early May for going soft on school-funding issues. “I thought Democrats were going to stand up for resources the right way,” said Wellstone, after Senate Democrats sided with Republicans to clear the way for debate on the Bush bill. “I wish we would fight harder.”… Teachers are fighting harder at the state level. Education unions across the country provided financial aid in April to the 13,000-member
Hawaii State Teachers Association
‘s twenty-day statewide strike, which ended with Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano’s agreement to up teacher pay not by the 9 percent over the next two years he initially proposed but by 16 percent.
Harvard Living Wage Campaign
sit-in has focused national attention on the burgeoning movement to pass ordinances that lift pay rates for public and nonprofit workers above the poverty level. More than sixty local governments and school boards–from Ypsilanti, Michigan, to New York City–have enacted living-wage ordinances, according to the
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
. Miami Beach; Ann Arbor; Missoula, Montana; and Rochester, New York, have passed municipal living-wage provisions this year, as has the Richmond, Virginia, school board. Living-wage campaigns are currently under way in more than seventy-five other communities, including Pittsburgh, Little Rock and Sacramento–where local unions working in coalition with church and student groups have begun organizing mass rallies to press for city action. Some college-based campaigns, such as the one at
in Connecticut, have already succeeded, while major efforts continue not just at Harvard but at other schools such as Swarthmore, where the