In Louisiana teacher survey, support for mass protests, walkout

May 21, 2018 - 3:43 pm
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mass demonstrations at the Capitol, petitions to lawmakers, and a statewide strike are among the actions a majority of teachers who answered a union's survey said they are willing to take in a quest for better pay, according to results released Monday.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers said 3,832 teachers responded to the online survey. Fifty-three percent of them said pay is the top issue facing schools, with 23 percent saying school discipline is the top issue.

Asked about actions they would be willing to take for higher compensation, 61 percent said they would be willing to take part in a statewide walkout; 59 percent said they would be willing to take part in a mass demonstration at the Capitol in Baton Rouge.

The respondents make up only a fraction of Louisiana's roughly 49,000 public school teachers. And the survey isn't a scientific measure. However, spokesman Les Landon said LFT believes the response was large enough to give an accurate picture of teachers' views.

"Our survey shows that teachers are fed up, not just with low pay, but also with a lack of resources, crumbling facilities, poor student discipline, and a lack of parental involvement," LFT President Larry Carter said in a news release accompanying Monday's results.

A fourth of the respondents said their salaries were above the state average of $49,745 a year; 73 percent said theirs were below it.

About 78 percent said they have considered leaving the profession because of low pay. Eighty-four percent said state and local governments should both contribute to increases.

The LFT news release said Federation leaders will meet over the summer to discuss actions the union may take in the coming school year. "The survey is being broken down by school district to help local leaders plan their local strategies," the release said.

Responses were accepted from April 10 until May 7. The survey was launched after major teacher protests were launched in North Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

LFT, which says it has about 20,000 members, is one of two major school employee unions in the state. The other is the Louisiana Association of Educators, with a membership of about 15,000.

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