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As School Opens, Teachers Walk the Picket Lines

The beginning of the school year is also the time when teacher disgruntlement rears its head. Although there have not been any strikes in large urban districts in recent memory, and a couple of threats this year fizzled out, there are plenty of teachers out there walking the picket lines right now.

In Broward County this week, teachers threatened to work less to protest stalled negotiations on their contract. ''There will be no volunteering, no field trips, no taking papers home,'' Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo told the Miami Herald. Strikes are illegal under Florida law, so an all-out job action is out of the question.

In Bellevue, Wash., teachers are striking over a standardized curriculum that mandates what is taught in class from day to day, and the pace at which it is taught.

In Duquesne, Pa., teachers are striking after the district offered them only a 3 percent hike instead of the 19 percent they wanted. And in Souderton, Pa., teachers have been walking the picket lines over disagreements on salary and health-care benefits.

The national teachers' unions are never too eager to discuss trends in teacher strikes, but outside experts have often said in recent years that the number of teacher strikes will go up as educators have to battle more fiercely than ever before for health-care benefits and teacher pay and against federal mandates.

These few examples, most in small districts, don't signify a trend for now, but they do seem to encompass all these issues.

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