Strikes in Oklahoma and Kentucky.After teachers in West Virginia held out for a 5 percent pay raise, receiving it after a nine-day walkout in one of the poorest states in the U.S.This is a very unusual spring for us, for some of my teachers they’re referring to this as the education spring.In Oklahoma, legislators are debating a revenue package aimed at ending its statewide teacher walkout,including two proposals to tax certain internet sales and expand tribal gambling.The teachers are demanding increased education spending, including raises.Kentucky teachers are protesting cuts to their pensions, and in Arizona teachers are asking for a 20 percent pay increase with the threat of a strike on the horizon.“Teachers are a little fed up with the fact that their salaries haven’t been going up,
and in most of those states actually spending for schools has actually gone down in real terms since the Great Recession,and so partly teachers are hearing all this news about how the economy is recovering and they actually haven’t seen an increase in their salaries.”Schools are funded primarily at the local and state levels in the US, and Oklahoma and Arizona have experienced serious tax reductions, says Michael Hansen.“So these states, both of these states cut costs significantly in the immediate wake of the recession,and then they’ve cut taxes, so that even though the economies in these states have been recovering, the state is not getting nearly as much as they used to and that creates a budget constraint.
Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that the argument by state legislators that they have to live within a budget sounds reasonable.“But if you’ve manipulated that budget actually take a whole lot of the money off the table by giving a big tax break to some of the biggest corporations, to oil companies in Oklahoma.And you say no, no, no. We’ll make it so these folks don’t have to pay their taxes that revenue is not in the budget,and they shrug their shoulders like it was magically disappeared, look, this is all we have; this is all you have by design.”
Lily Eskelsen Garcia认为州立法人员说必须要控制预算的说法听起来很合理。“但是，如果你控制了这笔预算，你实际上是从人们手中拿走了这笔钱，给一些大公司、俄克拉荷马州的石油公司大规模减税。然后你说，不不不。我们能做到这点，所以这些人不需要交税，税收也不涵盖在预算里面。他们耸耸肩，就好像这钱凭空蒸发了一样。你看，我们就只有这些。不，是你们设计了这一切。”
For the 2016 to 2017 school year, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated the average national salary for kindergarten to 12th grade teachers to be about 59000 dollars, compared to averages of 46000 dollars in West Virginia, 45000 dollars in Oklahoma, 52000 dollars in Kentucky and 47000 dollars in Arizona.
Jill Craig, VOA news, Washington.