What A Recent Illinois Teacher Strike Can Teach Us About LA's

Jan 17, 2019

More than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers are on strike this week.

The biggest issue on the negotiating table has not been teacher salaries, as is common. Instead, LA teachers are worried about class sizes, which can sometimes reach 40 students per class.

 

Meanwhile, teachers in Denver, Colorado, are nearing a work stoppage of their own.

Denver teachers want the school district to change their pay structure. -- to make salaries and raises equitable for teachers as they gain more experience and education.

That was the same point of contention during the teachers strike in Geneva, Illinois last month.

Kevin Gannon is the president of the Geneva Education Association. Gannon says educators have found that the model both unions want, the “step and lane structure,” is the most fair standard available. He says that’s because measuring success in the classroom can be much more difficult than in other occupations.

 

“A lot of new ideas have come out of the Denver school system and Colorado state in general because they do tend to be a little bit more venturesome in the way they take this on,” said Gannon. “So it’s interesting that the teachers have said, ‘We’re kind of done with the adventure, and we want something that’s a little more stable and reliable.’”

 

In 2018, the US saw several high profile teacher strikes. Gannon says he thinks that trend could signal more strikes in the coming year.

 

He also says he learned through Geneva’s strike that it’s vital to try to keep relationships intact through a contentious negotiation.

 

“You still are working with each other. You have to, through the process, maintain relationships,” said Gannon. “If relationships are burned, then it’s an ongoing healing that has to take place -- and we’re experiencing that in Geneva.”