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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.

Expand chart
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.

Expand chart
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

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.