West Virginia Teacher Strike Comes to an end

West Virginia Teacher Strike Comes to an end

Shelby Finnegan, Reporter

After over a week of the community striking to get teachers the pay raise they deserve, the teacher strike in West Virginia has officially ended with agreement from Gov. Jim Justice that increases state employee pay by five percent.

 

“I felt encouraged, supported, and strengthened by the outcome of the strike. As a member of the teachers union, AFT, I was part of democracy in action. The support of our Superintendent, Dr. Gibson, along with parents and students, was particularly inspiring,” said John Guiser, a teacher at Shepherdstown Middle School in Jefferson County, West Virginia.

 

The strike began on February 22, when over 20,000 teachers walked out of schools demanding higher wages and improved benefits. Union leaders informed the public that teachers would not be going back to school unless all of their demands were met by the governor.

 

“This strike has been months in the making. The teachers and state personnel have been told they were going to receive a pay raise over the past few years,” said Adrianne Uphold, the Managing Editor at the Daily Athenaeum, the student newspaper at West Virginia University.

 

According to the National Educational Association, in 2016, the average salary for a teacher in West Virginia was $45,622. Ranking the state 48th in the nation, receiving an average of 31% less than any other state in the nation.

 

“To pay them [the teachers] such a substandard wage is downright insulting when compared to the vitality of their jobs,” said Kameron Duncan, an opinion editor at the Daily Athenaeum.

 

Having such low pay could lead qualified teachers to leave the state in search of a better salary, decreasing the quality of education in the state of West Virginia.

 

This is the largest strike ever in the history of West Virginia’s education system, with just about every public school (approximately fifty-five school districts) joining forces to give teachers what they had been promised by Gov. Justice.

 

“While West Virginia has had teacher strikes in the past, most recently an 11-day work stoppage in 1990 but this strike is the first to include all 55 counties. This show of solidarity between teachers led to every public school in the state being closed over a four-day period,” said Kameron Duncan, an opinion editor at the Daily Athenaeum, informs the public.

 

Since the protest, school has been back in session. After nine consecutive days of school cancellations, teachers are proud to have voiced their opinions to the Governor, and are looking forward in continuing to give students the education they deserve.

 

“The best is yet to come, and I plan to keep giving my best,” said Guiser.

 

Speaking of the students, many from the West Virginia school districts were involved in the strike, demonstrating how much their education and their teachers matter to them.

 

“I went to public school in Morgantown so I have witnessed these hard working teachers give everything to their students. WV legislators need to remind them how crucial they are to our society,” said Uphold.

After reaching a compromise with the teachers’ demands, the Governor expressed just how valuable teachers are to the society, tweeting, “I’m an educator, I believe in your purpose, I believe in you, and I love our kids.”