One year after the nationally publicized nine-day 2018 West Virginia Teachers’ Strike, 54 West Virginia Counties have, again, closed their doors after teachers’ unions called for a statewide strike earlier in the day.
The nearly-statewide closure has, already, started to revive last year’s strike slogan and hashtag, #55 United. However, one county, Putnam County, has announced that they will NOT close tomorrow.
Putnam County Schools Superintendent John Hudson, sent out a voice message announcing that Putnam County Schools would be opened on Tuesday, February 19 “even though a strike was announced earlier this evening… it is the expectation that all employees report to work on Tuesday, February 19 at their regularly scheduled time.”
The work stoppage is due to a complicated and controversial “omnibus” education bill currently making its way through the state legislature.
The original bill, passed by the state senate earlier in the legislative session, has been viewed by some teachers and union officials as “retribution” for last year’s strike. The West Virginia House of Delegates amended the original bill to a version that was more acceptable to teachers’ and service personnel unions.
The House version of the bill was sent back to the senate for another overhaul and vote. The latest version of the bill that won senate approval allows for up to seven charter schools in the state and provide for educational savings account for parents to send their children to private school. The previous house version only allowed for two charter schools throughout the state, a number union officials found acceptable.
Union leaders are opposed to the creation of charter schools in the state because they believe the funding for charter schools will erode the public school system and further the economic divide between “the haves and the have nots.”
Upshur County High School teacher and Appalachian Views publisher, Edwina Howard-Jack said, “Unfortunately, it seems that the only thing lawmakers in Charleston will listen to is a work stoppage. We have no choice but to stand united for ourselves, our families, our students and our schools.”
Photo Caption: Adam Culver, a Cabell County teacher and member of the Cabell County Education Association, records as leaders of the WVEA, AFT-WV and WVSSPA education unions call for a statewide strike beginning tomorrow at a press conference outside of the Senate chamber at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Craig Hudson/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)