Around 50 teachers from the Atlanta area went on a two-week long hunger strike this week to call attention to the issue of school funding ahead of the 2018-2019 school year. Georgia’s schools were fully funded this year for the first time in almost two decades and the teachers are afraid state legislators may try to backtrack next year. The unorthodox protest, launched by Alex Robson, Gwinnett County’s Middle School Teacher of the Year, and the organization Hungry for Education.
Throughout the 14-day fast, which lasts until August 26, the teachers will only drink water, lemon juice, vitamins, and one Gatorade a day. Other teachers have chosen to only fast from sunup to sundown. Although a hunger strike is an unusual way to demand education funding, not to mention change the way politicians view public schools, teacher strikes in general over the past year have become widespread and effective in red states across the country. Georgia’s educators are simply joining those in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona, where teachers have had varying levels of success in securing raises and increased funding.
A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics has shown that teachers spend around $480 dollars a year on school supplies for their students, well beyond the $250 federal tax deduction provided to teachers. Many teachers say that the burden of classroom spending would be decreased if their salaries were restored or if the hundreds of millions of tax revenue cut from public schools over the past few decades were restored.