West Virginia has some of the worst public schools in the nation, coming in at 42nd place in a recent evaluation of public schools conducted in 2018. The state also has the worst school bullying problem in the U.S. However, these facts seem to matter little to public school teachers who are striking not to improve the state of their problematic schools but rather to prevent charter schools from opening in their state.
The West Virginia Senate Bill 451 would not only have permitted seven charters schools to open in the state of West Virginia, but also allowed education savings accounts to enable parents to pay for private school. The bill also included a 5% raise for teachers in the state.
Ironically, the first two points in the bill have led teacher unions to accuse state politicians of attempting to get revenge on them over last years’ teacher strike. The teacher unions then called for a strike, and nearly all the teachers in the state answered the call. The stunt shut down classrooms for two days. Sadly, the bill was killed in order to pacify the teachers who have now returned to their jobs. However, the unions have made it clear that they will strike again if the bill is ever revived. The only portion of the bill that is apparently acceptable to the teachers is, of course, the 5% raise that comes on top of the raise they received when they went on strike last year.
Unfortunately, West Virginia teachers aren’t the only ones who think that a strike is in order. One of the demands of teacher unions involved in the LA teachers’ strike was to prevent additional charter schools from opening in the LA area. Not surprisingly, local officials almost immediately caved to the unions’ demand.
Randi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teacher and a close personal friend of Hillary Clinton, has naturally backed the West Virginia teacher unions, stating that the teachers had “no choice”. However, while the news media focuses on the teachers’ demands and why they may or may not be entirely fair, it is the parents and children who suffer. Children lose school days that they have to make up for while parents may be forced to take unpaid time off work to care for kids who are supposed to be in school. Special needs students often suffer more than anyone else because it is hard for them to study normally.
West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael said it best when he told reporters that the teacher unions were on the wrong side of history, and that the move to open charter schools and allow for education savings was a marker in the process of education reform.
Currently, forty-three states and Washington DC have laws allowing for charter schools to provide an educational alternative to children who either don’t do well in a traditional public school or whose only option are to attend sub-par public schools. Unfortunately, West Virginia teachers have now ensured that their state remains behind the times by limiting educational choices for parents and kids.
While parents can opt to homeschool their children, the state doesn’t make the process easy, forcing parents to provide the state with a detailed outline of what they intend to teach and, in many cases, submit to yearly testing to ensure their children are up to par. It is ironic that a state that has serious problems with offering their children a proper education would cave to the demands of a few noisy individuals and well-funded unions instead of standing up to them and putting the needs of kids and parents first.
~ Conservative Zone