Don't Look Now but the West Virginia Teacher Strike Is Spreading

Glen Norman
March 7, 2018

Teachers from Oklahoma City and Tulsa came together on Friday to talk about a possible walkout and 55,000 people are members of a private Facebook group called "Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time Is Now!"

Salfia said teachers will settle for nothing short of a legislative guarantee for the raise.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael and other Republican legislators maintain the state can not afford raises that would end the walkout by some of the lowest-paid educators in the country. For its analysis, CNBC used data from the National Center for Education Statistics on median annual salaries for public elementary and high school teachers. The crowd of teachers, mostly women, wore red bandannas in commemoration of the Battle of Blair Mountain and grew to such a large size that they had to shut the capitol down temporarily.

"It is beyond time to fund education in the state of Oklahoma", President of the Oklahoma Education Association Alicia Priest told ThinkProgress. Teachers are exhausted of not having the supports and funding so they can do their jobs adequately in the classroom. "We're losing teachers like insane to other states". And I thank our teachers and school service personnel, who absolutely are to be credited for this milestone - by standing up, standing strong, and keeping our state's young people at the forefront of this fight. "They're taking a big risk and they're putting themselves out there and fighting for the future of our state, which are these children", Vasale said. Despite the long layoff, Stringer supports the teachers.

"You can't put students first", read another demonstrator's poster, during a rally in early February, "If you put teachers last". In 2011, she said, 32 certifications were given out.

All public schools have been closed across the state, leaving about 277,000 students out of school and about 30,000 employees on the picket line as workers fight for the higher pay that now ranks amongst the lowest in the nation and rising health care costs. Workers were demanding the state curb insurance costs and give them significant raises after years of stagnant pay. "Then, I think all teachers at least in the back of their mind were starting to think, okay, we need to do something, even if it's just wearing red shirts on the same day", Karvelis said.

And teachers are showing rising discontent as the strike drags on, amid concerns about their own income.

"In some cases, rights owners can't be found to sign leases, resulting in a great deal of acreage being unavailable for drilling that otherwise would be", Brett Loflin, of Northeast Natural Energy and an Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia board member, told the Huntingdon (W.V.) Herald-Dispatch newspaper. "I was one that was iffy".

"I don't care about party politics on either side".

"We must make sure that the Senate hears our voice and knows that we won't back down".

"We are doing this without raising taxes", Blair said.

Priest said businesses should "pay their fair share".

"We overcame, we overcame!" said one teacher, Danielle Harris, calling it a victory for students as well.

There are some 42,000 public school teachers in Oklahoma, according to state figures. He said it was a cut of $20 million. She has five children and already tight budget.

The strike was the first of its kind in West Virginia in almost 30 years.

West Virginia officials agreed on Tuesday to a deal ending a teachers strike by raising pay for all state workers by 5 percent after more than a week of protests across the Appalachian state, the governor said.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article