Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - March 22, 2019 


President Trump rattles the Middle East, saying the U.S. will recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights. Also on our Friday rundown: A judge blocks laws limiting the power of the new Wisconsin governor. Plus, momentum builds across party lines to abolish the death penalty.

Daily Newscasts

Teacher Strikes Boost Ed Funding in WV, Other States

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice told striking teachers Tuesday that he wants a pay-raise bill that does not include any more than a pilot program for charter schools. (Dan Heyman)
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice told striking teachers Tuesday that he wants a pay-raise bill that does not include any more than a pilot program for charter schools. (Dan Heyman)
February 21, 2019

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The wave of school strikes that started in West Virginia a year ago seems to be moving more funding into public education, nationally.

According to a report by the American Federation of Teachers, average K-12 funding stalled or fell between 2008 and last year.

Economist Sylvia Allegretto has studied the issue as co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California-Berkeley.

She said average pay for teachers actually dropped slightly in that time, and now is nearly 20 percent below what similar college graduates make. She noted the states that followed West Virginia in having statewide strikes last year had some of the widest pay differentials.

"They have some of the worst pay gaps in the country," Allegretto said. "For instance, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado – all states that 'walked out' – have teacher pay gaps that are over 30 percent."

School employees across seven states and in Los Angeles walked off the job last year. Five of those strikes resulted in large increases in pay and public-school funding. Issues in two are still unsettled.

The AFT said employees in more than a dozen other, individual school districts have walked out, and that many of those cases also led to more money for schools. But the trend toward increases in public-education funding seems to be driven in part by improving state and local budgets.

Gov. Jim Justice confirmed that West Virginia is making school employees' pay and health insurance a bigger priority now that state revenue is finally rising after years of red ink.

"I think people should look at education as an economic driver, and we should genuinely invest in education," the governor said. "At the end of the day, nationally, we've slipped and slipped and slipped."

A two-day strike this week by West Virginia teachers and school employees looks likely to ensure that little of the state's additional education funding this year will go to private programs like charter schools.

Allegretto said that's also part of the national pattern for these labor actions, which tend to focus on a lot more than pay.

She listed a few examples: "Crumbling buildings, outdated books, class sizes that are too large, inadequate staffing and wraparound services. It's not just teacher pay. And one of the largest issues is the idea of publicly-funded charter schools."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV