Take Me Back to School, Country Roads

Derek Marble ’18
Lawrence Zhang ’18
EE Contributors

West Virginia Teachers on strike March 4, 2018

The nine day West Virginia teacher strike ended on Tuesday, March 6, making national headlines. The men and women that have refused to return to the classroom were outraged at their low pay and almost non-existent healthcare benefits. Despite the Governor raising teacher salaries slightly just before the strike started, the general consensus of those participating in the strike was that their living expenses and health-care benefits were still less than adequate. Pictures of the passionate teachers flooding the state capital captured just how turbulent the situation was, and led to national support for these administrators of knowledge. On the 5th day, teachers stormed the capitol building, chanting “We’re not gonna take it.” Members of the West Virginia State Senate were certainly sympathetic to their initial pleas, however, as relayed by Mitch Carmichael, President of the state senate, “West Virginia simply does not have the funds to allow for the proposed raise.”  

As with every issue, there comes time when the government is forced to take action. Despite being controlled by a Republican majority, both houses of the West Virginia legislature unanimously passed a law that would increase wages by 5%. This was swiftly signed into law by Governor James Justice. The teachers will be just as quick in their return. As teacher Heather Accord said to the New York Times, “We’re going to school tomorrow. We got everything we asked for.”

However, the unsung issue of this strike persisted to be the children that were not in the classroom. While the main issue was about proper compensation for teachers, it left over 277,000 students out of school, causing major issues for parents. Trumbull mother Tracey Marble sympathized with them, stating that “I truly feel for all the West Virginia parents that had to deal with their kids being out of school. That is a hardship, both logistically and emotionally. A Trumbull teacher strike would make me very uneasy.”

Although stories of gun protest and problems may take most of the front page these past couple weeks, there is no doubt that the events that have taken place in West Virginia will go down in history. More importantly, it sets precedent for what teachers can and should do in order to stand up for themselves. The message was clear: education matters, and we are what make it work.

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