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(~ STATE POLICY Messaging Guide: NETWORK tal How to Talk about Teacher Strikes State Solutions. National Impact. Why does good messaging matter when teacher strikes occur? ‘A message that focuses on teacher hours or summer vacations will sound tone- deaf when there are dozens of videos and social media posts going viral from teachers about their second jobs, teachers having to rely on food pantries, classroom books that are falling apart, paper rationing, etc. This is an opportunity to sympathize with teachers, while still emphasizing that teacher strikes hurt kids. It is also not the right time to talk about school choice—that's off topic, and teachers at choice-schools are often paid less than district school teachers. ns itive 1, Teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families. Independent research has repeatedly shown that time out of school disproportionately hurts low-income kids. Low-income kids already face serious disadvantages and they shouldn't be punished because adults can't agree. And low-income parents bear a disproportionate share of the burden economically when teachers strike. For parents who work hourly-wage jobs without benefits, taking a day—or a week—off work on short notice because they don't have or can't afford additional childcare can lead to losing their jobs. Parents working white collar jobs with benefits may have to spend more on childcare, but they aren't likely to lose their job. It's unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children. Related Resources: * afford-teacher-strike/ * high-risk-students-oregon/ 2, We can all agree that good teachers should get paid more. Rock star teachers deserve rock star pay. But the truth is, teachers unions and associations (name your state's) fight policies that would allow good teachers to get paid what they deserve. Forcing all teachers onto the same pay scale, and basing that scale solely on the number of years teaching, means that our very worst teachers make just as much as our very best teachers. And it means that young teachers—even if they are the most effective teachers in a school district—make the least. That doesn't make any sense. We should find a way that teachers and policymakers can agree to measure teacher effectiveness and pay good teachers what they deserve. Ideas for customized me ing 1. Address the role of red tape and bureaucracy. Example: In most states, administrators and other non-teaching staff vastly outnumber teachers and the numbers have been sharply on the rise in recent years. [INSERT STAT ON ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT FROM YOUR STATE.] We need to take a long, hard look at all these jobs and make sure that the majority of our school funding is going to teachers and students—where it belongs—not red tape and bureaucracy. 2. Address one or more of the specific requests being made in your state. For example, in Kentucky, lawmakers gave teachers basically everything they asked for, so in a case like this, you could say, “Teachers got everything they asked for, so its really unfair to strike now just to make a point. They won— lawmakers gave in. Why punish kids and hardworking parents?" If your state has been increasing school funding recently, you could point that out. If education already makes up a significant share of the state budget—half in many states—you could say, “We all want good teachers to earn more, and we all agree that schools are one of the most important things we can spend taxpayer money on. And we are. We spend 50% of the state budget on ¢SPN schools and there are still a lot of other programs the government funds, like healthcare for low income people and children, courts, roads, funding pensions for retired government workers, and environmental programs. The fact is, there's only so much money to go around.” + For those of you who are in states where you've cut taxes recently, that is sure to be a theme in coverage. That is obviously a challenging message to counter, But you can consider something like “One of the most important things we can do to make sure our schools are properly funded is to have a strong economy where everyone who can work can find a job and contribute to the tax coffers that fund the government. Lower tax rates help contribute to stronger job growth. Also, lower taxes on individuals let teachers keep more of the money they earn." 3 % t SPN Ifyou need assistance with messaging for your state's specific situation, please contact one of the following SPN senior policy advisors: Starlee Coleman Katherine Bathgate Senior Policy Advisor Senior Policy Advisor (SPN