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 candy and five dollars on a book, things seem pretty fine. But what if the cost of a book goes up to nine dollars? Then you’re left with only one dollar for candy, and hey, you might not even be able to afford candy anymore, right?
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!