West Virginia Teachers’ Unions Close Schools Again

Posted by Olivia Grady on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 at 2:25 pm - Permalink

Union leaders of the West Virginia Education Association, American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia, and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association announced a strike on February 18, 2019.

Yesterday, schools in 54 out of 55 counties in West Virginia were closed due to the strike.

The unions closed the schools because they oppose West Virginia Senate Bill 451 that was passed by the Senate on Monday. The Senate bill provisions they object to are the creation of charter schools and education savings accounts. The Senate bill would allow charter schools in West Virginia for the first time. The bill allows for up to seven charters schools to be created, but only two can be authorized per year. One of these schools must be for low-income students who speak very little English. The bill also provides for the creation of education savings accounts for 1,000 students with special needs or who have been bullied.

These provisions will only give lower-income West Virginia parents more options for their children’s education. More options lead to a better education for American children because of greater competition between the schools and a better fit for the children. In fact, the vast majority of random assignment studies prove that school choice improves students’ academic performance. These provisions also particularly help those with lower incomes, since the wealthy already have a great selection of choices.

Further, school choice bills also tend to increase funding for the public schools because many school choice bills include additional funding for the public schools. For example, in this bill, teachers and school service personnel would receive a 5% percent raise. There would also be more funding for schools with fewer than 1,400 students.

In addition, depending on the school choice program, public schools tend to receive the difference between the amount of money a child receives to attend a private school and the amount of money the public school would receive if the child stayed at the public school. As a result, public schools often have more money per student once a private school choice program is introduced.

Passing this bill with the charter schools, educational savings accounts, and a raise for teachers would have helped all West Virginians, especially school children and teachers, but unfortunately, labor unions were successful with their effort to kill this bill.

Even with that victory for unions though, teachers’ unions are still holding a strike today and schools in 54 counties are closed once again!