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EDITORIAL: West Virginia teachers deserve better healthcare



It has been a long week for the teachers in West Virginia fighting for a salary raise and healthcare benefits. The protest led into a strike which has resulted in all West Virginian public schools being closed for a week

The state government has tried to raise the wage by 5 percent, but the government is still neglecting the teachers' healthcare benefits. 

The strike may be misperceived as being solely about a raise in wage, but the strike began after a raise in healthcare costs for families teaching in West Virginia. Katie Endicott, interviewed by Jess Bidgood for the New York Times, has been teaching for 10 years in West Virginia and believes this raise in payment is ridiculous considering the amount of money she earns

Despite all of the hard-working hours teachers put in, Endicott makes a little under $1300 every two weeks. This new healthcare payment will take away at least $300 of those earnings

This is all hard to swallow to begin with when we think of our teachers throughout many years of schooling. The Editorial Board was already on board to support the strike, and even more so when we learned of the additional steps West Virginia took to hurt teachers.

“They implemented Go365, which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year,” Endicott told the New York Times. 

Go365 was eventually stopped, but the concept itself is frightening. Having to report your physical fitness in order to earn rewards in a work environment could be a good idea, but making it mandatory is simply unacceptable. 

Endicott felt the upcoming state elections this year gave them the perfect opportunity to protest these changes made to their work environment. 

This is not an isolated issue. Teachers in West Virginia are not the only ones facing a lack of funding or lack of pay raise. South Dakota, with $42,025, and Mississippi, with $42,744, have the lowest ranking annual teacher salaries in the nation, according to the NEA’s 2017 report

The average salary for a teacher in Indiana is around $50,000. Time’s Money portion did research on the average “real” income of the states and they placed Indiana to make $ 55,713 on average, which is still $1000 more than the average salary for a teacher in Indiana. 

While Indiana’s salary remains significantly higher than the nation’s lowest, it also remains significantly lower than the nation’s highest, at $79,152 in New York

Teachers around the nation, especially in West Virginia, have the right to strike and earn more money to have a more comfortable life. We hope the state governments realize this so the strike can end soon and teachers can return to doing what they love: teaching.

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