Get out and vote! AND West Virginia teachers prevail

Get out and vote in primary elections today: Your vote counts for our schools! Here are links to help you find polling places and see Texas AFT’s list of education-friendly candidates in key contested races on both Republican and Democratic primary ballots in all parts of the state: http://bit.ly/2CjS7g4. These primaries will set the stage for runoffs in some races on May 22 and for the general election in November. Look for coverage of the election results in upcoming Hotlines.

Teachers prevail in West Virginia showdown with lawmakers: With solid backing from parents, students, and their home communities, West Virginia teachers and support personnel have won a signal victory after walking off the job nine days ago to get a fair deal on pay, health-care costs, and working conditions. The deal reached today gives them all a 5-percent pay raise, creates a mechanism for addressing out-of-control health-insurance costs that have eroded pay, and sidelines anti-employee, anti-education proposals that threatened working and learning conditions.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told CNN news the deal is a “huge breakthrough” for school employees and for doing what’s right. She added: “You have a story here, a modern-day story, of labor solidarity on an issue that is irrefutable. That for teachers to stay in our profession, for bus drivers and support staff to stay and do this work, we need a livable wage, and we need the conditions in schools that can help kids thrive.”

News stories and commentaries in multiple media outlets agree that the win for fed-up education employees who walked out in West Virginia teaches some lessons that lawmakers in other states would do well to heed. One key lesson is that, in a battle between teachers and lawmakers about what our schools and students deserve in the way of state support, it’s the teachers who have the credibility.

CNN’s coverage illustrated this point well with a comment from a West Virginia high schooler, Victoria Blickenstaff, who said before the announcement of the deal: “I wish it wouldn’t have come to this and that I was still in school, but I want the teachers to get the wages that they deserve, so I’m all right with it.”