West Virginia Public Schools Are Shut Down As Teachers Protest Due To The Low Pay

Date February 27, 2018

According to data from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, teachers in the US earn less than 60 cents on every dollar compared to other professionals. They also tend to work for longer than their colleagues in other countries.

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Consequently, teachers are generally underpaid. And this has discouraged young people from getting involved in the profession. The situation is leading to a lack of qualified teachers from the new generation.

Studies show that the national average starting salary for teachers is $36,141. Non-starting salaries average at $56,383. But some states like Montana start as low as $27,274.

Public schools shut down in West Virginia

On Thursday 22, teachers in West Virginia staged a walkout to get the increased pay and benefits. Consequently, all public schools were closed.

Only a day before the protest, Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill permitting a 2% rise in salaries starting in July. The new bill also adds 1% increase to pay in 2020 and 2021. But clearly, his was not enough to stall the protests.

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However, the teachers say that the bill hardly provides any help. The Public Employee Insurance Agency has already frozen premiums and benefits of teachers for 16 months. In addition, this action was made on request of the governor himself.

Salaries in West Virginia start at $32,435. Furthermore, the average salary is $44,701, placing West Virginia in 48th in terms of teacher pay. However, House Finance Chair Eric Nelson said the current state budget cannot accommodate any further increase in salaries.

Legal trouble

In a related development, teachers may face hard times after the state attorney general’s office suggested that their protest was illegal. Prior court rulings have been cited as precedent. Furthermore, it is likely that teachers may face disciplinary actions, such as fines, suspensions, and possible jail terms.

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Protest Schools