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Sacramento teachers fight for "what's right" with strike

Sacramento teachers on strike
Sacramento teachers strike "for what's right" 03:30

Teachers in Sacramento went on strike Thursday for the first time in 30 years. They're accusing the school district of backtracking on promises of better pay and smaller classes.

In the past year, more than 400,000 teachers in nine states have gone on strike, affecting more than 5 million children.

Raising three boys on her own in costly California is a daily struggle for Victoria Carr, who has been teaching for 12 years.  

"It's hard. It really is. Am I making a difference? Is it impacting people," she said.

With teachers on the brink of a strike, Carr went to a school board meeting to confront the district superintendent. 
"I want them to see me fight for what's right. I want my students to know that they're important enough to me that I'll fight for them and I'll say what needs to be said as best I can," said the seventh-grade teacher.

Nationwide, the average teacher salary has decreased by 4 percent in the past decade, when accounting for inflation. Eighteen months ago, the Sacramento School District avoided a strike by giving their teachers a raise. Thursday's strike is solely about the students. The teachers say the district did not hold up the rest of that deal, which included smaller classroom sizes, more nurses, psychologists and after school programs.

The starting pay for Sacramento teachers remains at $44,000 a year. Last year, superintendents in the area made between $290,000 and $330,000 per year.
CBS News spoke to Sacramento superintendent Jorge Aguilar, who makes $295,000, and asked if he's willing to take a pay cut.
"At this point, everything is on the table," Aguilar said.
He said the district has a $35 million deficit. 

"We're obviously working feverishly to figure out if there's any other places where we can create more efficiencies,  live a little bit longer without some services and resources for our employees," Aguilar said.
Sacramento school board president Jessie Ryan said the problems they're having in Sacramento are not unique to the area.
"I think we have to look at how we're investing as a state, how we're investing as a country," Ryan said.

Veteran teachers like Carr who make about $79,000 a year say the strike will grow in size if their demands are ignored.

"If we have to come out again, we will," she said.

Her message to other teachers across the country is to keep going.

"It's a hard, long battle," Carr said. "But keep going. Keep fighting. It's worth it. Our kids are worth it. Your kids are worth it."

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