Opinion: Laws or Responsibility?


Yimel Hernandez-Gonzalez, Author

During the past two-three years in West Virginia, legislators have been trying to prevent teachers from going on strike. This year, they decided to take their actions far more seriously.  

Most students wake up, go to school, go back home and repeat. What students and the world never realize is that all the teachers that shape the future generations to come were also students with aspirations and dreams of their own of leading students to reach their full potential. The idea of going on strike to make themselves heard was not part of that dream. When striking seems to be the only solution to be heardfor teachers that is also something they can’t do.   

Striking is one of the few things some states allow teachers to do since they are worried about the county and schools image depending on how a teacher presents themselves. Teachers are human beings, not robots or machines. They deserve their own voice and freedom.  Imagine growing up with the dream to help others, the dream to become a teacher. I doubt they ever expected to be “owned.”  

SMHS teachers were asked questions regarding their opinion about striking and their responses although we’re all unique were still similar. 

So, during the 9-day strike in 2018, we went on strike because information came out that our insurance wasn’t going to be fully funded anymore and normally the state of WV pays for teachers’ insurance, so there were being cuts made because there was no source of funding, so teachers were paying more out of their pocket for going to the doctors etc. The outcome was that we ended up getting a pay raise,” said Mrs. Jorgensen a newspaper/yearbook and English teacher of eight years.  

“The 1-day strike 2019 was primarily because there was a bill in the WV state legislator that would enable the state to make public charter schools and ESA (educational savings account). An educational savings account would allow parents to pull their child out of public school and send them to either a public school or home school them and it would also take the money from the public school, so we were concerned about that because that would take money away from the public schools which already don’t have a lot of money,” said Mrs. Jorgensen.

Striking is a way for a person to express how much something means to them and why. But teachers are being denied that right. Not because it comes with the job title to go to school, teach and repeat but because the world does not want them to be more than a symbol of hope or maybe even a type of hero to some.  

“I would never go on a strike, and the reason I would not is because I believe it is a bad feeling and there are better ways than to get your point across than to not show up for work, said Mrs. Inman an SMHS teacher of five years. 

Everyone has a different opinion on what they should stand up for. As a teacher, a student, and a person, one can be caught in between following their heart and doing the right thing. Sometimes following your heart might be betraying what is right, and it can get twisted and complicated, but it all comes down to one thing, the law. In every job you have to risk giving up the right thing that is given to you by the government to gain something in return. Being a teacher means giving up your freedom of speech in a sense. Although it is not fair, it is the law and a rule made to keep stability.  

“I absolutely love teaching in West VirginiaI have built such an amazing relationship with all my kids, said teacher Mrs. Avella. 

Although striking in the state of West Virginia is illegal and some teachers wouldn’t do it for fear of losing their job or how students would see them afterwards, it doesn’t change how they feel working in Berkeley County as a whole. The point of letting teachers strike isn’t so they can run wild expressing their opinion but so that their voice is heard enough that their rights are valued and respected.