West Virginia Teachers Strike and Win Again
Bill to Privatize Schools Defeated
02/20/2019 - On Feb. 19, almost a year after walking out of school and beginning a national movement of teacher and education workers strikes across the country, West Virginia workers struck again. This time teachers and school personnel walked out explicitly in protest against a potential bill that would begin a process to privatize the state’s education system. Schools in 54 of the state’s 55 counties were closed for the day, and the House of Delegates voted 53-45 to kill the bill only hours after the walk out.
The bill was working its way through the state legislature, with both houses passing amendments. The major point of contention was a Senate-passed amendment creating seven charter schools across the state and providing funding for parents of special needs children to utilize private education. The bill went back to the House of Delegates as the teachers began their strike, and the Republican-led chamber voted to kill the bill.
Union leaders fought the bill since its introduction. They argued the state’s lawmakers only listened to private interests, without consulting teachers and pushed a bill through the legislature that emboldens privatization, at the expense of the public education system.
“The bill that the West Virginia legislature killed yesterday would have undoubtably harmed the public education system in the state,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “We are proud to stand by the teachers and school personnel who hit the streets against this bill and pressured lawmakers through their action to do the right thing. It shows that when we stand strong and united, we win”