By Caitlin Kelly
Watch this 3 minute CNN video and marvel at the travesty of American “education.”
In it, teachers in Oklahoma — with master’s degrees and 20 years’ experience — mow lawns, wait tables, cater weddings and drive for Uber to make ends meet.
One needs to use a food bank to eat.
If you’ve been following American news lately, you’ve seen reports of teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma fighting for higher pay and better conditions in which to teach — like textbooks that aren’t 20 years old and literally falling apart.
Education funding has dropped by 28% over the past decade, the state teachers’ union said. Oklahoma is among the bottom three states in terms of teachers’ salaries.Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that gives an average of $6,100 raises for teachers, $1,250 raises for support staff, and adds $50 million in education funding.
Thousands of teachers returned to the picket lines on Tuesday in their effort to secure more education funding from state legislators, forcing the cancellation of classes for public-school students in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The picketing marked the continuation of a strike that kicked off on Monday, when tens of thousands of educators in about a third of Oklahoma’s school districts walked out, affecting 300,000 of the state’s 500,000 students.
The Oklahoma legislature last week passed a bill raising teacher salaries by $6,000 on average and restoring education funding by $50 million, but educators say it’s not enough given the cuts they’ve contended with in recent years. They are asking for $10,000 more per teacher over the next several years and $200 million in restored education funding. The legislature had been cutting education spending for years, with the amount of per-student funding dropping by nearly 30 percent (when adjusted for inflation) over the past decade, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Oklahoma leads the nation in inflation-adjusted cuts to education funding since the 2008 recession.
“One of the most notable changes in the US economy in recent decades has been the rise in inequality. A key inflection point in inequality appears to be around 1980. It was during the early 1980s that there was a pronounced increase in the 90-10 income gap and a sharp rise in the income share of the 1%.
“With the advent of a more unequal society, concerns about a possible decline in inequality of opportunity have risen to the forefront of policy discussion in the US. To better understand inequality of opportunity, economists and other social scientists have increasingly focused attention on studies of intergenerational mobility. These studies typically estimate the strength of the association between parent income and the income of their offspring as adults.”
In other words, it’s not so much inequality of outcomes that bothers Americans, but inequality of opportunity. And that, unfortunately, appears to still be rising.