Kids in West Virginia have been out of school since teachers walked out on them February 22. West Virginia governor Jim Justice approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers last month. The West Virginia House agreed to a 5 percent raise, but the Senate only approved 4 percent, so some 20,000 teachers in the state remain away from their classrooms.
Lines at the capitol the longest I’ve seen them in my 10 days in West Virginia. Conference committee meeting at 4 PM in order to come to a possible agreement about the fate of the pay raise bill pic.twitter.com/5DhFCeY2eF— Sarah L. Jorgensen (@SarahLJorgensen) March 5, 2018
Not only are students left without school and a place to spend their days, in a state with 17.9 percent poverty, many are left without their only reliable source of food every day as well. Community members, including teachers, are gathering food to help these students. They're also collecting for teachers in the form of a GoFundMe campaign that has raised nearly $235,000 as of Monday afternoon. The campaign description reads:
West Virginia teachers and school service personnel are on strike. The people who help our kids everyday need our help now.
They say that they will not back down on getting a 5 percent raise. However, teachers are also unhappy with their health insurance, and the task force to address that isn't scheduled to meet until March 13.
How long will students be at home, without the meals they depend on, while teachers refuse to go to work? What we do know is that the strike is illegal. Punishing families is never the right answer.