In West Virginia the fabled country roads get no respect and are most useful for fleeing the state

It’s time for teachers and other school workers to strike for the roads too, and DOH worker pay and benefits. Buses, bus drivers, students, teachers, parents use the roads all the time of course. If they can. A key lesson that should have been learned from last year’s school strike, the only substantial way forward for education – and apparently for the rest of society in WV – is for educators to expand their push for improvement beyond education.

The rest of the population in all other areas needs to join in. Teacher pay should be higher, class sizes should be smaller, campuses should be better resourced etc. But/and so too should DOT/DOH workers pay be higher so enough workers can be found to fix the damn roads (for school buses not least, as for everyone). The same applies to other fields and situations. It’s clear that a general strike is needed every year, for the foreseeable future. Services and assistance for low income families should be much more advanced (including to improve the abilities of impoverished children at school). That means striking for better wage laws and work conditions and better health care for the population in general.

It could mean more health clinics and other assistance (legal, psychological, employment, transportation, recreational, etc) including at more full service school campuses. It means striking and demanding more for the population in general, for the most vulnerable, for the biggest problems, most of which directly or indirectly affect education also. Everyone has to rise together or no one will rise very far.

Educators and school workers need to make demands that extend far beyond the school campus, otherwise their efforts will be limited, because their power will be limited. They will be cut off from the general population and they will be put down with marginal patchwork raises and tinkering that will strip them of almost all their leverage to do anything more. Unions in Canada won health care for the entire country – that was their demand – not just for their own union families. Likewise, teacher unions and groups need to vastly expand their base of support by vastly expanding the social scope of their demands.

How else to get even the roads in good shape? It’s necessary and it makes sense for teachers to go this way as obviously all these social issues affect the ability to teach and learn so very much. Expanding the social scope of the demands is the only way forward for teachers, students, and everyone. This is two years in a row now that – despite the remarkable achievements – the failure to make adequate demands has proven to be the biggest weakness of the movement to improve education, let alone anything else. One way that movements are measured, that power is measured, is by the size and scope of the demands. Infinite room for growth remains there. And without that growth, precious little will change and teachers will be forced to settle for marginal raises and minimal improvements, while being forced to accept destructive measures, like losing money for taking personal days, or seeing funds siphoned off from the public and into private pockets to pay for charter schools. Without general strikes, little changes for the good. And the same old BS is allowed to echo through the corporate media and their corporate cowed government.

To occupy Charleston more effectively, sweeping demands are needed. Demands that cover basically everyone and everything of any urgency at all. That’s the whole point of public agency. 25 percent of math teachers in WV are not certified. Essentially that means there is no professional public math education for a big chunk of the population of WV. No wonder WV ranks near last in the country. Likewise there is no public road repair of any adequacy for a big chunk of WV, because the government refuses to make the sweeping pay upgrades necessary for workers, material, and equipment. WV gives tax cuts to billionaire businesses instead and pays interest to big banks instead of creating its own public bank. There needs to be strikes for all of this or WV will become increasingly uninhabitable.

Very little basic respect is given to the much sung about country roads of WV, let alone to its education system. People flee the WV every year, the population declines, as the state becomes more and more unlivable and big business tightens its rule through the Republican Party (a corporation actually). It is bad enough when corporations rule through the so-called Democratic Party (also a corporation). Only progressive action and general strikes can move things forward. Last year, in large part kicked off by the WV teacher and school workers strike, annual strikes in the US reached a thirty year high, though nothing near the level and scope that is so badly needed.

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