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Will The LA Teacher Strike Inspire Texas Teachers To Walk Out? Probably Not

Priska Neely
Speech pathologist Larisa Robedillo strikes outside Shenandoah Street Elementary School in Los Angeles.

Public school teachers in Los Angeles, the second-largest school district in the country, went on strike Monday to demand smaller class sizes and more money for support staff. As we saw in early 2018 with the teachers strike in West Virginia, strikes can inspire teachers in other states to walk out of the classroom.

Although many people in Austin often (and begrudgingly) compare the city to L.A., Texas law prevents teachers here from following suit.

Discontent with how the state funds schools is pretty universal, but a section of the Texas Constitution discourages teachers from going on strike.

The constitution reads: “public employees may not strike or engage in an organized work stoppage against the state or a political subdivision of the state.” It says any employee who violates that clause “forfeits all civil service rights, reemployment rights, and any other rights, benefits, and privileges the employee enjoys as a result of public employment or former public employment.”

For teachers, that means they could lose their pension and their Texas teaching certificate.

But that doesn't mean teachers don't want to strike here, said Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas State Teachers Association.

"There's always a lot of interest when you have national media coverage about 'Why can't we walk out or why can't we strike in Texas?'"

Candelaria said teachers in Texas have complaints similar to those of teachers elsewhere who strike: lack of support staff, low pay, insufficient benefits. With striking off the table, he said it’s important for teachers around the state to engage in the legislative session.

“Public education must be a priority and we must do something to reform school finance in Texas to ensure they are funding public education and meet the needs of all of our students,” he said.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature have said they want to overhaul the school funding system in Texas this session, but it's unclear what the specific plan will be yet.  

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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