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‘Well, there are only 25 books and you have 35 kids; figure it out,’ and so we do. look at us and say, ‘I'm sorry, there’s nothing we can do,’ that is not acceptable,” said Jessica Salfia, an English teacher at Spring Mills High School.

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“A political or social movement can oftentimes accomplish more than any lawsuit, and it can certainly do so more quickly.” After all, he pointed out, some school-finance cases have dragged on for years and even decades before seeing results.

“What we have here is an opportunity for the people to vindicate the constitutional rights of children not in a court of law but in a political arena.”It’s debatable as to why exactly West Virginia was the state to precipitate this fledgling national teachers’ movement, but experts tend to agree it comprised, in the words of Paul Reville, a professor of education policy and administration at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, “a perfect storm of factors.”For one, unlike most other states, West Virginia doesn’t allow for collective bargaining at the local level; the same is true of Oklahoma.

When that limitation corresponds with a notably low salary, a statewide strike is more likely.

Meanwhile, a sizable chunk of West Virginia’s 55 counties is contiguous to other states, where average salaries are sometimes as much as $20,000 more than they are locally.

“I'm born and raised in West Virginia—I love this state through and through— but at some point [being able to financially support] my kids matters more than what I want.” In a similar vein, educators feel that state policymakers underestimate the importance of the education system to efforts to stimulate the economy, pointing to the state’s corporate tax cuts, which often result in less funding for schools.

As much as the demands of West Virginia teachers were about their own pay and benefits, the underlying message was about what teacher compensation means for the quality of the education being provided and, ultimately, the well-being of the state’s kids.In Kentucky, a battle over educators’ pension benefits has raised the possibility of a teachers’ strike there, too.And other teachers’ unions throughout the country (and the world) have voiced their solidarity with their West Virginia counterparts through public statements, #55strong tweets, and pizza donations.“We’re getting support from teachers all over—Alaska, New Mexico, Oklahoma. These places are saying, ‘We know that if they’ve done it in West Virginia, we can do it here too,’ so I think [this strike] is going to start spurring some action in other states,” Annette Jordan, a teacher at Hedgesville High School in West Virginia’s Berkeley County, says.In Oklahoma, where the average teacher’s salary is even lower than that in West Virginia, educators are poised to stage a similar walkout, potentially in early April, to demand higher pay from the state legislature.According to the , the Oklahoma Education Association on Thursday plans to unveil a school-shutdown strategy; the teachers’ union said the vast majority of the 10,000 educators who responded to a survey supported shuttering campuses so they could strike.“What teaching encompasses today [anywhere in the country] is so different than what it did 20, 25 years ago; with every continued mass shooting, with the tragedy of Parkland, there’s more recognition of ...

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