Public schools across West Virginia are closed for a second day as teachers and other school employees hit the picket lines, demanding higher wages and better benefits.
Teachers from across the state congregated in Charleston Friday morning, continuing the demonstration that had begun at the state capitol Thursday. Locally, teachers are walking picket lines in front of individual schools, according to Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia. Every public school in the state’s 55 counties is closed Friday, according to data from the West Virginia Board of Education.
Organizers reported large crowds Thursday, with lines to get into the capitol to protest wrapping around the building. Campbell told CNN on Friday morning that similar lines were already beginning to form.
West Virginia teachers are back in Charleston for a second day of picketing for higher wages. All public schools in the state are closed for a second day as a result of the work stoppage. Video from Christine Campbell: pic.twitter.com/xpbat4hYFs
— Sarah L. Jorgensen (@SarahLJorgensen) February 23, 2018
West Virginia employs nearly 20,000 classroom teachers in its public schools and has more than 277,000 students enrolled, according to Alyssa Keedy of the West Virginia Department of Education.
Protest at the capitol
On Thursday, teachers walked into the state capitol building in Charleston, according to Campbell. While some sat in the gallery during legislative sessions, others gathered outside the full galleries and continued their protests.
In other public areas of the capitol building, teachers chanted, “You work for us!” and “55 united,” a reference to the 55 districts that are closed. They also carried signs with slogans such as “Respect Ed” and “No recess until YOU clean up this mess.” Campbell told CNN that the line to get inside wraps around the building.
“The most important thing for us right now is public education and that we’re standing up for our students and our colleagues,” Campbell told CNN on Thursday.
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