The state teacher unions have conducted two strikes in two years. In both instances, the strikes shut down schools statewide—11 days in 2018 over salaries and 2 two days this year over charter schools and private school vouchers.
I keep wondering if and when the West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers West Virginia will overplay their political hands and run afoul of the public.
But according to the latest edition of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll, that has not happened.
The poll of 500 registered voters in West Virginia by Research America found that most believe teachers should be paid more. Sixty-two percent of those questioned believe teacher salaries in West Virginia are too low, while 31 percent say they are about right and seven percent say they are too high.
The support for higher pay is broad-based. Seventy-five percent of liberals, 60 percent of moderates and 57 percent of conservatives believe school teachers should make more money.
A majority of West Virginians support a job action by the teachers for better salaries.
Sixty-nine percent of those questioned would support teachers in their community if they went on strike for higher pay, while only 31 percent would oppose.
Strike support is also broad-based. Eighty-five percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents and even 53 percent of Republicans say they would back teachers in their community if they struck for better wages.
It’s worth noting that a majority of West Virginians support a strike for higher pay even though teacher salaries have been increased by an average of five percent a year for the last two years.
West Virginians are not quite as supportive of the teacher unions are they are higher salaries, but the organizations are still on the plus side. Fifty-five percent of registered voters approve of the teacher unions, while only 27 percent disapprove. Eighteen percent are not sure.
While the MetroNews West Virginia Poll shows that most West Virginians support their community teachers, and are even willing to back a walkout for higher pay, many still have questions about the quality of education being delivered.
Voters are split evenly—exactly half of those we questioned are dissatisfied with the quality of pubic education in West Virginia but the other half are satisfied.
I hear a considerable amount of grousing from listeners about the teacher unions and the walkouts, and I’ve pointed out a number of times that the strikes are illegal. However, our poll shows that most of the voters we questioned are on the side of the teachers, even when they go on strike.