This was the school year teachers reached their breaking point.
From West Virginia to Arizona, they walked out en masse to protest at their state capitols. Many were tired of working multiple jobs and wanted higher salaries.
Even more demanded better school funding for their students to replace crumbling textbooks and archaic supplies.
Sometimes they got what they wanted. Other times, they didn’t. Here’s a look at which battles teachers won and lost – and why this all went down now.
The night before the strike began, Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed off on a 2% teacher raise this year and 1% raises for each of the next two years – still not enough to keep up with inflation. So the first statewide teacher strike of the year ensued.
What they got: After nine days of the strike, Justice agreed to a 5% raise for teachers. As part of the negotiations, legislators also agreed to give all state employees a raise. The governor also issued an executive order aimed at creating a long-term revenue fix to public employees’ insurance program.
What’s going to happen next: While the strike ended amicably – with both teachers and lawmakers celebrating – some teachers and students will now have to prolong the school year into June to make up for days lost to the strike.
What teachers wanted: Like West Virginia, teachers in Oklahoma rank in the bottom three states for teachers salaries. Veteran teachers had often worked about 10 years before cracking the $40,000 mark.
The Oklahoma teachers’ union wanted $10,000 raises for teachers; $5,000 raises for support staff, such as janitors and cafeteria workers; and $200 million in education funding.
What they got: Shortly before teachers walked out, Gov. Mary Fallin approved an average raise of $6,100 for teachers; $1,250 for support staff; and a $50 million increase in education funding – fractions of what teachers wanted.
But after nine days of protests, lawmakers didn’t budge. The walkout ended without all the funding teachers wanted.