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West Virginia teachers' union goes on strike over legislation that would give teachers a big raise. The reason is infuriating.

They're protesting new legislation that would allow for the creation of seven charter schools

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Tuesday, teachers unions in West Virginia called for a statewide walkout. Classes were cancelled in 54 out of the state's 55 counties.

The strike is happening for a simple reason: The teachers' union is upset with legislation currently being considered by the state government, in spite of the fact that the legislation gives teachers the same 5 percent raise they got after going on strike last year.

The reason the teachers' union opposes the bill? Because it provides for the creation of "education savings accounts" that would allow parents of bullied or special needs kids to attend private school.

Didn't this happen last year?

Teachers in West Virginia went on strike on Feb. 22, 2018, almost exactly a year ago.

During that earlier strike, teachers had protested getting paid less than other educators across the country. West Virginia did, in fact, have the fourth lowest median annual salary for teachers out of all 50 states for the 2016-2017 school year ($45,700).

But, as a CNBC article from March 5, 2018, noted, while West Virginia teachers did make less than their counterparts in other states, they were actually making 5 percent higher than the median income for West Virginian households before that strike.

What's the reason behind this strike?

Unions objected to legislation currently being considered by the state government, which would allow for the creation of up to seven charter schools and 1,000 education savings accounts to help parents of bullied or special needs children who want to send their children to private schools. The bill would also give teachers 5 percent raises, the same percentage that they received after their 2018 strike.

But both the charter schools and these savings accounts are seen by the unions as a blow to the public school system. Union leaders also argued that they should have had more input on this legislation.

This bill passed the state Senate on Monday, and the House of Delegates is expected to consider it on Tuesday. A similar version of this legislation already passed the House, but that one only included allowances for two charter schools and did not mention the savings accounts.

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a former Democrat who switched parties in August 2017 (and had switched from Republican to Democrat two years earlier), promised to veto the Senate version of this legislation if it passes.

"What they're doing is dead wrong," he said, according to The Associated Press. "It's lunacy to me."

Fred Albert, the president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said that they were "left with no other choice" but to strike.

One last thing…
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