Children’s education takes a big hit in RTW states

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WEST VIRGINIA: Students joined their teachers to support their multi-day strike for more education funding and better school employee wages. – Photo CNN.com

School funding, teachers’ salaries are lowest in RTW states, and kids suffer for it

By ED FINKELSTEIN
Publisher

“This fight has always been about more than wages; it’s about the kids... Funding public education adequately is a fight that we must win because it’s the right thing for our kids, for our economy and for America.”

– Ed Allen, president, Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers

As tens of thousands of teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia – all states with “right-to-work” laws – strike to protest the lack of state funding for their kids’ education and their own salaries, new research by the Labor Tribune shows the serious and negative impact RTW has on education, both in school funding and teacher salaries.

It’s not a pretty picture.

IMPACT ON KIDS: LOWER PER PUPIL SPENDING

When workers are earning less (an average $8,740 less in RTW states), there’s less money for education. That has a direct impact on what states can spend for books, supplies, materials, and most importantly, staffing that impacts class sizes.

As a direct result, the facts are clear: children suffer in RTW states.

This report looks at per child spending, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2015 and updated December 2017, based on average state spending of $11,392 per pupil.

30 WORST STATES

Of the 30 worst states spending below the national average per pupil: 

• RTW23 are RTW (77%) spending less on their kids.

• NO RTW only seven states (23%) without RTW spend below the national average on their kids.

20 BEST STATES

• NO RTW 16 states (80%) have enough revenue to spend above the national average to educate their children.

• RTW only four (20%) can afford decent spending on their children’s education.

Missouri has little to be proud of in this report. It is 21st in the WORST category. RTW can only make the situation worse for our children.

IMPACT ON TEACHERS’ SALARIES

If you’re going to have quality education for our children, you need the best-qualified teachers. To get them, you need to pay a living wage.

Teachers are not in it for the money, but they too have families and have to survive just like the rest of us.

The data clearly explains why teachers are taking to the streets to fight for their children and their paychecks.

Data from the National Education Association tells a revealing story how RTW impacts education funding and a state’s ability to pay — and thus attract — the best teachers.

Comparing the 50 states based on the U.S. average teacher salary of $58,353 per year (see chart):

36 WORST STATES

• RTW – 26 states of the worst 36 states (72%) pay below the national average.

• NO RTW only 10 of the 36 states (28%) have low paid teachers.

14 BEST STATES

• NO RTW13 of the best 14 states (92%) pay teachers above the national average.

• RTWOnly one state (8%) – (Michigan) – pays its teachers a decent wage above the national average.

Missouri is the 12th WORST paying state. Yet our legislature continues to cut education. RTW can only make it even worse for our children.

Vote 'NO' Aug. 7 to protect Missouri children's education.

EDUCATION ON THE CHEAP

Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, which represents 2,600 teachers, summed up what is driving so many teachers to take to the streets:

“This fight has always been about more than wages; it’s about the kids,” Allen said. “We believe lawmakers finally recognize — thanks to teachers lifting their voices and standing their ground in Oklahoma and across the United States — that kids should no longer be educated on the cheap. At its core, this is about teachers’ and school support workers’ heartbreaking teaching and learning conditions… Funding public education adequately is a fight that we must win because it’s the right thing for our kids, for our economy and for America.”

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