Right now, across our great country, there are thousands of people walking out of our educational institutions with one word on their mind: change. Teachers are walking out to demand better pay and benefits. Students want a safer learning environment after a series of mass shootings rocked their sense of security.
In West Virginia, schools have been called off in every county as teachers rallied at the state capital in Charleston. Their main gripe involves not being paid adequately enough, as well as benefit cuts to health insurance that has left the state’s educators reeling. They’re also firmly against new legislation known as “paycheck protection”.
Governor Jim Justice did sign a bill that increases teacher salary by 2% and 1% after two years, but the teachers still aren’t happy. The new pay increase is minimal and offers no additional health benefits. They continue to rally and march outside of the state capital, hoping these extra days off will compel their government to act, but no one knows if or when it will happen.
Students Are Rising Up
In the wake of the February 14th shooting at Stoneman Douglas that left 17 dead, school had been called off, giving traumatized students time to grieve and unite together for a now common goal: gun reform. They’ve started rallies, held speeches, and even participated in a CNN town hall to tell their story and compel U.S. lawmakers to make a change.
Of course, that task isn’t as easy as the students would hope it would be. While democrats and anti-gun advocates stand firmly behind the students, pro-gun groups see it as a threat to their constitutional right to own a firearm. While the debate continues to rage on, the students continue to rally.
Not just at Stoneman Douglas, or even in Florida, but all over the country. Carrying signs and staging walk-outs, these angry teenagers feel they have no voice since they are too young to vote and need to speak out in the best way they can. Taking full advantage of their spotlight, these students want the world to know they’re angry and fed up.
A Change Needs to Happen
It should be obvious to any viewer that school funding simply isn’t enough. When President Donald Trump first proposed the idea of arming teachers to help protect students, the first reaction was essentially, “you don’t even pay us enough for books and pencils, much less for guns and training.”
They have a good point. Our education system is falling apart. It wasn’t but a few short years ago when the Detroit Public Schools was all over the news for their poor standards. Only 16% of all 11th graders in that district scored a proficient grade in math and reading. It’s not just bad test scores, but corruption as well.
$46 million was found to be missing after an audit and several employees were charged with embezzlement. Combine this with the deteriorating classrooms, they have a real mess on their hands, one that won’t be cheap to fix. They ended up closing 29 of the schools, laying off over 2,000 teachers, and cutting their curriculum budget by over 80%.
Regardless of where you stand on certain issues, changes need to be made. Teachers need to be paid more, students need to feel safe in their classrooms, and we need to work on overhauling our entire educational system. This is especially true in inner-city schools where funding is scarce, violence is rampant, and students are under-performing.
Who knows. Maybe there’s a huge link between teachers being unable to teach, the turbulent lives of young students, and the failed education system that presents the negative consequences we see today. The only thing that will help is a dramatic increase of funds for schools to help pay teachers and improve safety.