Teachers are making their voices heard in states across the country. In recent weeks, strikes and walkouts by educators in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma have garnered nationwide attention. But don't expect to see anything like that here in Texas. A state law prohibits strikes or organized work stoppages by public employees. "If any of our public employees were to participate in an organized work stoppage, they could potentially put not only their employment at risk, but any of their public benefits such as their retirement," says Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Clay Robison with the Texas State Teachers Association says they honor the state law, and thus are not encouraging members to strike or walk off the job. But that doesn't mean Texas teachers are completely satisfied with their pay and the level of education funding in the state. "We have a lot of the same issues that teachers (in other states) have," says Robison. "Our schools are underfunded, our teachers are underpaid, our children are overtested."
Robison tells KTRH that not only is striking against state law, it wouldn't do any good anyway since the Texas Legislature isn't in session this year. Instead, Texas teachers are expressing themselves in other ways. "What we are telling our members, and urging other educators in Texas to do, is to get out and vote, and vote in large numbers, and vote for education candidates," he says.
Capo agrees that there are better ways for teachers in Texas to air their grievances than walking off the job. For instance, Texas teachers typically gather to rally at the state Capitol, but they do it during spring break. "It is going to take rallying, it's going to take pushing, it's going to take voting at the voting booth to really turn this around," he says.