Continuing with our list of top 10 stories that have affected the Ohio Valley in 2019, we bring you our number 6 story, the West Virginia teacher strike that promoted a historical movement.
West Virginia schools went on strike twice in the span of a year, something that has been nearly unheard of in years past. The first-time teachers hit the picket fence was on February 23rd, 2018 over a five percent pay raise. This was largely due to teachers in the mountain state being ranked at the bottom for starting salary in the region.
The strike ended on March 7th, marking it as the longest in state history. The pay raise was granted, and a P-E-I-A task force was also established by Governor Jim Justice as promised.
Then, just under a year later, West Virginia educators hit the picket lines again, this time to protest Republican efforts to privatize public education. 54 of the 55 counties took a stand against the controversial education reform bill, by canceling public school classes. They did this to stand up against the proposed education savings accounts and charter schools on the bill. Teachers said they were even willing to give up the pay raise granted in the previous strike to shut down the bill entirely.
The strike ended and school resumed just two days later on February 20th when lawmakers agreed to sideline the education legislation teachers were protesting.
Since these strikes, West Virginia senate republicans have taken action by adding a new measure to ban teacher strike to their sweeping education proposal. The vote came with heavy opposition from democrats who backed their teacher’s decision to strike.
19 thousand teachers walked off the job during the 2019 teacher strike.