If Tennessee teachers really want to improve the state’s overall investment in schools, including in teacher compensation, they may need to walk off the job.
A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates that in states that have seen recent teacher protests, investment in public education has improved significantly.
More from Chalkbeat:
In four states where teachers walked out of their classrooms in protest last year, education spending is up, helping to make up for deep cuts in those states in the wake of the Great Recession.
That’s according to a new analysis that suggests the walkouts and strikes made a difference in Oklahoma, Arizona, West Virginia, and North Carolina. The report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, found that baseline state funding jumped 19 percent in Oklahoma last year, while North Carolina and West Virginia both saw 3 percent upticks.
Tennessee’s overall investment in public education is 44th nationally and we actually spend less per pupil in inflation-adjusted dollars than we did in 2010. Additionally, the rate of pay increases for our teachers is relatively small and lags behind the national average:
Average teacher salaries in the United States improved by about 4% from the Haslam Promise until this year. Average teacher salaries in Tennessee improved by just under 2% over the same time period. So, since Bill Haslam promised teachers we’d be the fastest improving in teacher pay, we’ve actually been improving at a rate that’s half the national average. No, we’re not the slowest improving state in teacher pay, but we’re also not even improving at the average rate.
It seems unlikely this will change until policymakers are made uncomfortable. One sure way to cause discomfort is through a massive protest or job action. Tennessee teachers who are tired of the status quo may well need to take to the streets to see real change for them and for their students.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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