April 24th, 2007 06:45 EST
West Virginia Teachers Unhappy Over Minimal Pay Raise
Teachers in West Virginia not only deserve to make a decent and respectable salary but also one that exceeds the pay raises they received just last month of 3.5 percent.
And after the budget passed through the state Legislature in mid-March, teachers and their unions were not happy. This resulted in staged various protests and walk-outs. These protests included a crowd of more than 100 teacher picketers protesting outside the WVU Coliseum in efforts to express their discomfort and animosity towards Gov. Joe Manchin. To much of their dismay, Manchin and his staff were no-shows.
The teachers, statewide, are gaining more support within their communities as each day passes. With no immediate action being taken by Gov. Manchin and his staff, it becomes obvious that they feel the 3.5 percent pay raise is more than enough. The Governor has been working hard with teachers and the state Senate to provide a pay raise that fits into the state’s budget. Manchin’s new pay raise plan includes a new minimum entry level salary at $30,000. After each year a teacher works, pay automatically increases. Now teachers specifically in Monongalia County are set to receive an extra $1,000 next year in conjunction with a school levy passed last fall. Manchin’s proposed plan is estimated to cost the state $144 million and in turn will keep the state in line for a balanced budget. The government is asking the upset teacher associations to bear with it as balancing a budget can be tricky. However, for a state that’s been ranked 47th in teacher salaries for the last 20 years, a 3.5 percent pay raise is not enough. The governor would have to nearly double this 3.5 percent increase to satisfy the unions.
Where is all this money going though? The pay raise plan does not include a raise for custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria staff. It’s going to be far from easy living for teachers considering their insurance is going up which means so is the cost of living, especially in Monongalia County. Also, where is the state lottery revenue? The lottery revenue should be a supplement to the public education system; rather many times it becomes a replacement. Ultimately, that means no new funding for teachers.
Teachers deserve more money and benefits than they receive. Currently, West Virginia ranks 28th in the nation at 71 percent of ninth graders graduate high school in four years. These numbers haven’t changed for more than five years. The objective needs to be the desire for these numbers to increase at least five percent each year. Without the teachers’ loyalty to this state, these numbers would decrease annually placing West Virginia at the very bottom.
Because there is a sufficient amount of evidence, there should not be too much of a problem fulfilling their demands. Too much of a problem makes the students suffer as classes are called off due to these various protests. Credit goes to the teachers for being so adamant for a pay raise that will eventually come their way.
By staging various protests and walkouts across the state, it shows that the teachers are serious and mean business. The Governor needs to keep his guard up because the unions are coming with a full head of steam and gaining support all over the Mountain State.
With all of the bad press Gov. Manchin has received over the insufficient salaries to state teachers, it’s a mystery in what he will do in the 2008 elections. He could seek a replacement Senate position, or stick it out and remain “Open for Business” until 2010. One thing sure to be on voters minds come 2008 and beyond is the pay raise to teachers, or lack there of.