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Here’s Why West Virginia Teachers Are On Strike


Jacob Fertig; Dale Lee (WVEA); Christine Campbell (AFT-WV)


Teachers in West Virginia continued their strike for a third day on Monday, shuttering schools and affecting nearly 277,000 kids.

The teachers began their strike Thursday, Feb. 22, in protest of pay raises the state’s governor signed into law that teachers say do not go far enough. The raises included a 2% pay increase starting over the summer, followed by 1% increases in 2020 and 2021.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice called the pay raise, which also affects state employees, “responsible” in a statement last week. “We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” the governor said. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue.”

Teachers in West Virginia, however, are among the lowest paid in the nation. The state ranked 48th in terms of teacher pay in 2016, according to the National Education Association. On average, teachers made $45,622 in 2016 — well below the national average of $58,353. Teachers also say the state’s raise will help cover the rising cost of health insurance. So on Thursday, Friday, and Monday school was canceled across the states’ 55 counties as thousands of teachers lobbied lawmakers at the state capitol.