There seem to be a lot of teacher strikes in the news lately. In the last month, we’ve seen news about the strikes/walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma (some are labelled as walkouts because teachers technically aren’t allowed to strike in those areas). It made me ask myself if these strikes were negatively affecting kids as much as they were giving positive benefits to the teachers.
When I was in AP classes my junior and senior year, my teachers were constantly talking about how little time we had before our AP exams and the entire year felt like it was a sprint to the finish line. We were at a bit of a disadvantage there because our school year typically didn’t start until after Labor Day (when some start in August) and the AP exams were in early May. If my teachers went on strike in April, I would have been set so far behind on my AP classes and would probably have done noticeably worse on my AP exams, especially if there were also previous days we missed for snow, ice, or other weather during that school year.
If you don’t have the same sympathy for over-achieving AP students like I do, then let’s think about the children. Many of these young kids are being forced to stay home and their home situation may not be able to accommodate it. If a child’s parent(s) are all at work during the day, it becomes a hardship to supervise them at home during work hours when it was expected they would be at school. Also, the kids may not be able to engage in learning as well at home if they are situated in a bad family situation or a less than ideal neighborhood, both problems from which they are removed while they are at school.
These strikes are often over a little bit of a difference in raises or benefits. This should be figured out when it won’t adversely affect students. Both the unions and the school administrators should think of the kids first in these situations. Maybe there needs to be some tenure reform or negotiations on salary, benefits, etc., but it looks bad when you hurt the students in the process. Administrators look stingy, unions look greedy, and teachers lose instruction time. Eventually the whole system needs to be overhauled, but until then we should remember that nobody wins in these strikes.
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