It's Happening: Talking with Superintendent Manchin about Potential Teacher Strike

By Julie Perine on January 26, 2018 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

The last time West Virginia teachers went on strike, many of today’s teachers weren’t born yet. It was in 1990 when educators were very displeased with the outcome of a legislative session as it pertained to teachers’ salaries.
 
They walked out.
 
Eleven days later, Gov. Gaston Caperton called a special session and teachers were awarded a three-year raise.
 
Our educators are getting restless again – and for the same reasons. They deserve more money, they say. Medical benefits are dwindling as premiums and deductibles climb and there are more proverbial hoops to jump through.
 
For the first time since the beginning of this legislative session, the “S” word came up Wednesday when educators gathered at a rally for West Virginia public employees. Some say if this legislative session doesn’t end in their favor, they might be striking again.
 
Superintendent of Harrison County Schools Mark Manchin said, for the kids’ sake, he sure hopes not.
 
“I am incredibly supportive of our teachers and service personnel. All of our teachers deserve all of the pay we can possibly give, but it’s fairly obvious that it doesn’t benefit our children any time we don’t have school. Academically engaged time is critical. When that is infringed upon – for strike or for inclement weather – it is not good,” he said.
 
Manchin remembers well the strike of 1990. He was in Charleston at the time, serving as vice-chair of the senate education committee. Initially, school was cancelled statewide. Then, some counties began pulling out. That is their prerogative.
 
The strike process is not set in stone and if it would happen – and this is far too early to tell – a lot of tough decisions would be addressed by the state superintendent of schools and Gov. Jim Justice, among other officials.
 
One such issue that comes to mind is an adjustment of graduation requirements for this year’s seniors.
 
“We, at the local level – the county level – would probably not be able to make a decision regarding the waiving graduation requirements … A statewide teacher strike has statewide implications. Any decisions are made on the state level.”
 
Parents expect and demand quality education from the school system; to adequately prepare students for their future.
 
“Regardless of what happens, that preparation will be made,” Manchin said.
 
Additional food for thought is what would happen with current high school athletic seasons.
 
“Questions arise all the time about ball games and practices and they are never easy,” Manchin said. “We encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities, but if we can’t have school on any given day that is regularly scheduled, my guess is that we can’t have extracurricular activities because they are an extension of school. But that’s purely speculative.”
 
As the current legislative session continues, so will a push for additional teacher pay. If, by chance, it does not conclude in favor of our educators and a strike results, Manchin said the best interest of our students would be priority.
 
“A lot of the decision making would involve common sense,” he said. “The welfare of our students, parents and our employees is always paramount.”
 
Read this WDTV report: Teachers becoming informed before taking their actions to next step. 

 




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