West Virginia Victory Inspires Teachers Nationally

Teresa Danks, a third grade teacher in Tulsa, spends $2,000 to $3,000 of her own money every year to buy supplies for her students. Last summer, she stood on a street corner with a sign, which read, “Teacher needs school supplies. Anything helps.” Now, she’s joined 50,000 Oklahoma educators—who haven’t had a raise in 10 years—and their supporters in a Facebook group calling for a statewide walkout unless the legislature meets their needs.

Encouraged by West Virginia teachers’ successful strike, educators across the country are demanding raises and resources for their students, especially in states that shortchange their schools.

Winning in West Virginia. After the nine-day strike by teachers in all 55 counties, educators and public employees won a five percent raise. Now, they’re urging the legislature not to cut Medicaid to fund the agreement.

Mobilizing Nationally. Tulsa teachers are working only the seven hours and 50 minutes required by their contract. The Oklahoma Education Association has warned that teachers will strike by April 1 if the legislature doesn’t fund a teacher pay raise and classroom needs.

  • In Arizona, teachers wore red to demand the state devote a $170 million revenue windfall to 5 percent raises for educators whose salaries are 7th-lowest in the nation.
  • The Kentucky Education Association rallied teachers at the State Capitol to demand full funding for public pensions.

Fighting for Full & Fair Funding. Most states slashed school funding during the Great Recession and still haven’t fully restored these cuts. Additionally, teachers in many states are fighting corporate tax cuts, which caused a $425 million deficit in West Virginia.

Working with Communities. Students bring problems to school, including family poverty, opioid addiction, and gun violence. That’s one more reason why teachers deserve higher pay, and also why educators are working with communities, exemplified by the American Federation of Teachers’ partnership to tackle poverty in McDowell County, West Virginia, called “Reconnecting McDowell.”