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Activist teachers aren’t just fighting for themselves. They’re fighting for their students.

by Elizabeth Todd-Breland  |  09/05/2018

It's back-to-school season. Kids mourn the end of summer and excitedly meet new classmates. Parents rejoice for the end of the summer child-care scramble. And teachers set up their classrooms, finish lesson plans and, increasingly, protest.

This last step has become more visible with the wave of #RedForEd protests over the course of the past year in such places as West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma and North Carolina. These protests have continued into the new school year, as teachers went on strike in southwest Washington state and educators in Los Angeles and Seattle considered following suit. These educators are protesting not just for better pay, but also for increased funding for public education to benefit students and communities.

These protests remind us that our government and the social safety net are failing. The result: Teachers have been forced to triage the symptoms of economic inequality. In addition to planning and providing academic instruction, teachers are often tasked with serving as social workers, counselors, nurses, food pantries, technology support specialists, accountants, facilities maintenance staff and janitors.

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Chicago Teachers Union