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We Are Watching a Working-Class Revolt in West Virginia

March 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Amy Traub, The American Prospect

For years, states have cut school funding while reducing taxes on corporations. But teachers and workers are fighting back.

Sometimes, working people push back.

Faced with jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet, health-care costs that break the budget, and public services exposed to countless rounds of cutbacks despite a growing economy, working people will push back. And, like the teachers across the state of West Virginia who walked out on strike for nine days and won meaningful raises and a freeze in health costs for all the state’s public employees, working people who push back sometimes win.

The simple message that it’s possible to fight back and win is powerful. It is surely resonating with teachers in Oklahoma, who, like their counterparts in West Virginia, are among the most underpaid in the nation: They are preparing for their own statewide rebellion against the funding cuts that have harmed the education of Oklahoma’s children and left their teachers struggling to get by.

But the resonance should be wider: Data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that most states across the country cut school funding after the Great Recession, and the majority never fully restored their support. In 2015, 29 states were still supplying less overall funding per student than they provided in 2008. In many of the states with the largest cutbacks in school funding, policymakers steeply reduced taxes for corporations and the wealthiest residents even as they drained education budgets, undermining schoolchildren and the teachers and staff who work every day to support them.

School funding cuts are a key example of how corporate lobbyists and other wealthy interests have manipulated the rules of our economy to consolidate their own power and wealth at the expense of not just our schools, but our broader communities, and the quality of jobs for public and private-sector workers alike.

The ideology of corporate windfalls and public austerity is everywhere in our national politics, from the massive corporate tax cuts passed by Congress to the Trump administration’s budget proposals slashing the basic services Americans depend on.

In fact, the same day a resolution to the West …read more


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