About 200 high school students walked out of Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday morning, November 8, in a display of solidarity with their teachers, who the Hillsborough County School Board have declined to give raises to this year.
These salary increases, which were to be around $4,000 for teachers who have proven themselves to be effective educators in the last few years, appear to have been promised to the teachers union. The school district claims to not have enough funds to honor this agreement.
As dishonorable as this is, it should not come as a surprise. American capitalism has been waging a long war on teachers and public education, this is but the latest attack. It follows the unacceptable practice of making teachers purchase their own classroom supplies and the push by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to privatize the education system.
This series of events raises several points. First, it shows that, contrary to widely held belief, teenagers care about the quality of the education they receive and also care about the well-being of the teachers delivering that education.
Second, it highlights the need for strong unions to fight for the rights of workers.
Third, if public schools don’t have the money to fairly compensate teachers, something crucial to the future of our society, how can we justify the massive spending on war, such as the upcoming sabre-rattling by the US Navy in the form of a massive military exercise this weekend in the Western Pacific?