Teachers are protesting in several states, some of which are among the most reliably Republican-red in the nation, such as Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Texas teachers won’t join them, as they are barred from doing so according to a 1993 law that forbids such demonstrations.
I am essentially neutral on the issue of whether teachers should be allowed to strike. However, I would prefer, as state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, told the Texas Tribune, that they remain in the classroom. “The goal is to ensure we don’t have the sort of stoppages that would constitute a detriment to the school day and the school year. So the focus is on the students,” Seliger said. “Teachers need to be in the classroom. The public expressions of opinion are very important. … If teachers want to demonstrate, they should absolutely demonstrate but it shouldn’t interfere with the school day.”
Still, the lack of the ability to strike doesn’t leave Texas teachers powerless. They can exercise their power at the ballot box. They can organize in favor of candidates who are favorable to their needs, such as better pay and retirement benefits, better insurance coverage to enable them to protect their families.
According to the Texas Tribune: “What we’re focused on are the elections. We’re urging our members, and all other educators, to get out and vote and to vote for education candidates,” said (Clay) Robison, the Texas State Teachers Association spokesman. “Vote for candidates who will vote to increase funding, decrease testing and vote against vouchers.”
“What the Legislature will listen to this year is votes,” he added.
This is not a simplistic solution. It is meant to reveal that ballot-box power can be an effective means to achieve political ends.
We’ve got an election coming up this fall. If teachers are concerned about the future of their profession and the children they serve, then they have the power to make it more right.