Updated May 19, 2018

The big picture: It's getting harder to be a teacher in America

Thousands of teachers on strike at the Oklahoma state capitol. Photo: J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Teachers from six states across the country have gone on strike in 2018 in protest of their working conditions, even at times in defiance of state laws.

Why it matters: Teachers have seen wage decreases across the country, yet they're still shouldering the weight of taking care of their classrooms and paying for supplies without reimbursement. This has launched a national movement among teachers from private and public schools alike who are fighting for more money, better budgets, and less red tape.

By the numbers
Costs rise while salaries shrink

While student costs are rising for teachers, 39 states have decreased funding for instructional materials.

Data: Urban Institute; Cartogram: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

In 11 states, plus Washington, D.C., teacher salaries have been declining since 2010, while their cost of living has increased.

Data: National Center for Education Statistics, The Council for Community and Economic Research; Note: Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, adjusted for inflation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
What we're hearing

Teachers believe they can make a change because of the power in their votes. And it isn't a coincidence that strikes are being held during an election year.

A lot of legislators' jobs are in trouble right now.
— Noah Karvelis, organizer of Arizona Educators United, tells Axios.

Karvelis told Axios that teachers are watching the way legislators vote and aren't satisfied. Meanwhile, the thousands of teachers who are disgruntled are among potential candidates in support of education.

  • Some teachers are prepared to run for seats in Arizona, Karvelis said.
  • In Kentucky at least 39 current and former teachers are running for seats in the state legislature in its upcoming primary, per an AP report
  • Oklahoma teacher Amanda Jeffers had no intention of running for office before the walkout, she told the AP, but has since changed her mind.
Teachers want to change restrictive laws

It's difficult for several teachers unionize because of right-to-work laws that don't require states to pay union dues.

  • So they strike; however, striking for teachers is illegal in all but 12 states. But even if it's legal, striking could risk their pensions or jobs.

The big picture: More teachers will continue to mobilize until the numbers swing in their favor, like teachers in North Carolina did on Wednesday. The growing trend of walking out of the classroom appears to show no signs of stopping, as more teachers feel emboldened by their peers and begin to push for change in their own education systems.

Go deeper

China separating Uighur children from families to re-educate them

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

About a half-million Uighur children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools as part of China's effort to eradicate the Uighur identity, The New York Times reports.

The big picture per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Forced family separation is a tried-and-true method that governments have used to permanently eradicate minority identities and culture. The New York Times reveals for the first time the true scale — and the genocidal intent — of China's intergenerational family separation policies in Xinjiang, a province with a large population of Uighurs.

Go deeperArrowDec 28, 2019

Census data projects shift in states' congressional power

Data: Brookings analysis of U.S. Census data; Table: Naema Ahmed/Axios

California is projected to lose a congressional seat for the first time next year, while states President Trump won such as Texas and Florida will likely gain seats, according to an analysis of new Census data by the Brookings Institution's William Frey.

Why it matters: It only takes a handful of seats to shift a party's power in Congress for a decade. The new data underscores the need for an accurate 2020 Census count, especially with changing demographics in states with booming populations such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 30, 2019

Tunisia becomes only Arab country with sex education in primary school

A girl holds a Tunisian flag as she watches a FIFA World Cup 2018 soccer match, June 28, 2018. Photo: Chedly Ben Ibrahim/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tunisia is the first Arab country to provide a sex education program for elementary and middle school students, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The education program will be integrated into a variety of school subjects such as Arabic and the sciences. Children will learn about their bodies in a "biological and religious-based way" to arm them against sexual harassment, catcalling, rape and molestation, the Post writes. Older students will learn about pregnancy and abortion.

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019