Teachers should not be denied the right to strike

Students often look forward to days off from school — snow days and national holidays are always eagerly anticipated. Another time students can get out of classes, and many times many days of classes at a time, is during a teachers’ strike.

While students may look forward to the mini-vacation that strikes can bring, many other members of the community do not share their elation. Because of this, Pennsylvania legislators are re-introducing the Strike-Free Education Act, a proposed ban on teacher strikes, that was first introduced in 2007 but did not pass.

Proponents of the bill argue that frequent teacher strikes have a detrimental effect on students’ education, but the Pennsylvania State Education Association conducted studies proving that teacher strikes have no significant impact on students’ annual test scores.

The supporters of the bill also argue that 37 other states have banned teacher strikes because of the alleged interruption they bring to students’ lives. Parents are rallying behind the ban because they are unhappy with the strikes disturbing family summer plans and with their children missing classes. However, as required by state law, every day of class is recovered and students do not lose a single day of instruction. So while strikes do interrupt students’ education, they do not miss out on any learning in the long run.

While we realize that there are legitimate reasons for complaints against strikes, such as interruptions of classes that often last unnecessarily long, getting rid of teachers’ rights to strike is not the answer. Strikes are sometimes necessary in order for teachers to improve their working conditions, and although they may seem disruptive at times, they are an effective, and sometimes the only effective, method of negotiation.

We firmly stand behind teachers’ right to fight for more benefits, for better salaries, and for better working conditions. If other public employees and union members (ahem, such as Port Authority bus drivers) are allowed the right to strike, then this right should not be taken from teachers. No law should be passed to restrict teachers’ freedom to demand better treatment.