JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi educators are organizing for action. They’re planning how to best get their voices heard following the most recent legislative session.
“Educators traditionally have been quiet," said Mississippi Professional Educators Association Executive Director Kelly Riley. "I think due in part because they have servant hearts, but also because of previous attempts to silence them. Educators will not be silenced anymore.”
They’re in fighting mode after a one-two punch from lawmakers. First the teacher pay raise debate, which ended with $1,500 raise being approved. Then, there was another education-related action in the final days.
“I think the icing on the cake was the deceptive tactics used by the leadership to insert the additional $2 million for vouchers into the DFA bill,” said Riley.
Nakiya Beaman is one of those teachers tired of feeling silenced.
“There’s something going on here that we don’t understand," noted Beaman. "But teachers know. We know and it is the last straw. We have to fight for our kids. We have to fight for ourselves and actually gain some integrity with the teaching profession.”
She’s one of more than 40,000 likes on a Facebook group talking about how to fight back, even throwing out the idea of a strike.
“The beehive has been kicked," said Beaman. "This is the time. We have to get moving. We see teachers in other states gaining momentum in their efforts. This is very much the time to do so on our behalf.”
But a strike is technically illegal here. Mississippi teachers did strike back in 1985, but the legislature turned around and passed a law banning teachers from future strikes. Regardless of whether they strike, there could be implications for the upcoming statewide elections.
“I think mad and eager to go vote later this year would probably be a good capture of what educators are feeling," added Riley.
A survey is also gauging what types of actions teachers are willing to take now. One choice on the survey is a one day statewide “sickout”, where everyone takes off sick the same day.
The Mississippi Association of Educators is asking educators around the state to fill out that survey HERE.