Update To Teachers’ Strike
The latest teacher strike is in Oklahoma, a state where schools can afford to stay open only four days a week. Besides pay raises, educators are fighting for more funding to help support schools with books, resources, and facilities. The state’s legislature passed a bill that raises teacher salaries by an average of $6,000 and adds $50 million to education funds, but educators say it isn’t enough. They are demanding $10,000 raises and $200 million in funding to help support the schools across the state.
Other states, such as Arizona and Kentucky, could follow suit as educators fight for funding and salary increases. Do you want to explore the situation in your state? Join the Spring Junior Reporter challenge by sending your findings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Earlier Post on strike in West Virginia in March 2018)
No, this is not about going back to school after winter or spring break. Teachers in West Virginia were on strike for almost two weeks demanding higher wages. Teachers’ salaries are often an issue among teachers’ unions across the country—in some states, teachers’ salaries have not risen in years. So in West Virginia, which has some of the lowest wages in the country, the teachers’ union decided to sidestep the state’s promise to look into the matter, and the teachers went on strike. The last wage increase for teachers there was in 2014.
What happens when teachers don’t receive wage increases? For one, their salaries don’t reflect the cost of living. Healthcare, for example, is more and more expensive, and in states like West Virginia, teachers have a hard time paying for healthcare.
Think of it like this: If you receive ten dollars every month for your allowance, and you spend five dollars on a shirt and five dollars on a book, things are fine. But what if the cost of a shirt goes up to nine dollars and your allowance remains the same? You need both the shirt and the book, but that remaining one dollar might not get you that much-needed book for school. What happens?
So teachers in West Virginia came together to fight for a pay raise. For the first time in years, they stopped teaching in their classrooms to prove they were not going to back down until they got a raise.
Some teachers still supported their students who depend on schools for their lunches by preparing lunches themselves for their students. The goal was not to deny education to students but to send a message to the government that they should be taken seriously. On March 6th, Governor James C. Justice signed a bill agreeing to a five percent pay raise!
So it’s back to school for everyone, including the teachers who demonstrated the power of unity and strength by joining forces!