In King County, Washington, outside Seattle, teachers are on strike.
The Kent School District and the Kent Education Association, a union representing the district’s teachers, have been trying to reach an agreement since July, with teachers claiming they are underpaid and underappreciated.
The Kent strike is not an isolated event. In recent weeks, teachers and other school district officials across the United States have turned their attention to long-simmering issues that often lie above racial fault lines.
There are many problems that teachers have to deal with.
In addition, students of color are unfairly disadvantaged by many of the issues teachers focus on: sweltering buildings, unwieldy class sizes.
that the issue plaguing some schools is that of racial equality
Most students in the Kent School District, Philadelphia School District, and Columbus City Schools are students of color, which means they bear the brunt of many of the issues that teachers and other employees focus on.
For example, in Kent, teachers tend to start with the maximum contracted class size.
Rosenberg argues that public schools, and schools in general, can be great equalizers, as the abolitionist and educational reformer Horace Mann proclaimed in 1848, but they are also great divisors. He said it could be
“I think people forget that for a lot of people, teaching is not just a profession, it is a dream job. Teachers, for young people who need them,” she said.
“And when young people do not have adults in their classrooms who are passionate about this profession — adults who enrolled in this profession and went to school for it — often vulnerable communities are most affected,” she said. added.
The choice of classroom materials is also important.
In many states, Republican legislators are passing laws that prohibit teachers from engaging honestly and strictly with race, among other identity categories.
“The state does not want us to access these texts, these texts that are centered around LGBTQ+ perspectives, BIPOC perspectives. We believe they deserve a place to be in because they have historically been erased,” Boismier told CNN.
Rosenberg echoed some of these sentiments.
“She said she felt like they[state legislators]were trying to erase her. They weren’t just asking me to take the book off the shelf. I’m saying I want to erase the part, your part of this story, history,” Rosenberg said. “And it resonated because who are they trying to erase? All the other kids in the classroom don’t fit the white supremacist vision of America.”
how to take small steps
In important ways, New Mexico is demonstrating how the state can meaningfully address at least some of the issues plaguing school districts.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lejean Grisham signed an executive order in May that cuts the amount of paperwork teachers have to do by 25%.
And in March, we signed a bill that increased state teacher base salaries by an average of 20%, strengthened teacher guidance, and made it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom.
These moves are not a panacea for the never-ending challenges facing school districts and their employees and students. But they’re not snorting and can provide guidance to states trying to stem strikes and shortages.
“People like to demonize teachers, and they like to see their complaints and say, ‘Oh, they just want to get paid more and have summer vacations.’ I think it’s important for people to realize that they have side hustle and tertiary hustle because they can’t afford it,” says Rosenberg. “That’s why so many teachers feel compelled to abide by despicable anti-historical laws. Teaching is two or three salaries he’s only one of.”
Rosenberg added that the teachers and the young people they work with deserve better.