Charleston, W.Va. — Nearly a year to the day after West Virginia instructors went on a strike that released a national “Red4Ed” movement, they’re doing it again.
Unions have called a statewide walkout for Tuesday over complicated education legislation they view as lacking their input and as retaliation for last year’s strike.
How long this one goes on will be a day-to-day decision, leaders of three unions for teachers and school service workers stated at a news conference Monday.
“We are left with no other option,” said Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Educators’ West Virginia chapter.
The 2018 walkout launched the nationwide movement that included strikes in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Washington state and more just recently, Los Angeles and Denver. Teachers in Oakland, California, have actually authorized a strike starting Thursday.
Now the movement has come complete circle.
Nearly all of West Virginia’s 55 counties called off public school classes Tuesday.
The unions have said lawmakers never asked for their input into what has ended up being a rushed procedure in the Senate, which directly passed an amended costs Monday night. It now goes back to the House of Delegates.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said based on the Senate’s actions, “it appears that they are more interested in listening to the outside interests than they are the educators across West Virginia.
“We will work as carefully as we can to get a resolution, but at this point, there doesn’t appear to be a resolution.”
One sticking point has been a provision to produce the state’s first charter schools, which the unions believe would erode standard public education but bill advocates say would provide moms and dads more school choices. Charter school laws have actually been enacted in 43 other states and Washington, D.C.
The Senate version would allow for up to seven charter schools statewide and provide for up to 1,000 education savings accounts for moms and dads to pay for private school. The accounts would be for special requires students and those who have been bullied.
The House version does not call for such cost savings accounts and would limitation charter schools to one each in Cabell and Kanawha counties.
Among other things, the Senate removed an earlier clause that would revoke the whole legislation if any part is struck down.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael stated the bill discovered a middle ground and has “great provisions.” It would give teachers extra 5 percent pay raises on top of 5 percent raises they got after last year’s strike.
Carmichael stated the expense’s objective is “getting our education system out of the doldrums.”
“Why would anyone desire to stand in the status quo and stay in the previous?” he said.
He blasted the instructors unions Monday night on Twitter: