Thoughts on the Strongsville (OH) Teachers Strike

For the second day children attending public schools in Strongsville, OH went to school but their teachers were not there. Substitute teachers have been called in to keep schools in Strongsville open after contract negotiations between the Strongsville City Schools and the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) fell apart. At issue here is teacher pay. 

SEA charges that teachers have not received a raise since 2008. While that statement has some truth to it, it is deceiving. Teachers in Strongsville as in most school districts are paid according to a salary schedule. On a salary schedule, teachers are paid based on their years of service and their academic credentials. What is true is that the salary schedule in Strongsville has not been changed since 2008. However, teachers in Strongsville have all continued to get raises in pay every year as they gained years of experience and in some cases earned additional degrees. So again, to say that teachers in Strongsville have not received a raise since 2008 is misleading. 
I am an advocate for good teachers. I believe good teachers should be paid a wage commensurate with their experience, expertise, and performance. However, I am not a proponent of teacher salary schedules in any form, as they assume that teachers with the same number of years of experience and the same academic credentials are the same. We all know that is not true. Some teachers with five years of experience and a masters degree are awesome; and some teachers with five years of experience and a masters degree are terrible. Yet with a teacher salary schedule, that awesome teacher is compensated in the same way the terrible teacher is compensated. That is ludicrous!
But here is my two cents on the Strongsville teachers strike: I find it more and more sickening that any group would hold children’s education hostage in order to better their bargaining position. That’s it; that’s how I feel. Teachers in Strongsville arguing that they are striking for the children are not being truthful. They are not striking for children; they are striking for higher wages. I am not saying higher wages are bad; I think most of us would take higher wages if we could get them. But it is shameful to pretend that this strike is about something that it is not. The strike is about the teacher salary schedule in Strongsville. The strike is not about children.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Strongsville (OH) Teachers Strike”

  1. This is my 6th year in my district and I am on step 2. For the last two contracts I have been on a true pay&step freeze. I have made the exact same (minus tax hike in Jan) for four years. I’m also not a big fan of steps, I see people making two times what I make for the same years/experience. To say this strike is just about pay is absurd. I’m sure there is more too this strike. Question is, what and when should teachers strike? Kids AND teachers have rights at school and deserve fair treatment. Should I strike because I teach five classes of +26? One of those classes has nearly 10 iep and 504 students (With no support for them or myself). Should I strike because my district still uses Windows XP and Office 2003, thus robbing my students of technology at least equal to that outside the school? Should I strike because French Fries are referred to as the “veggie of the day”? If we went on strike simply for children…then I fear nearly every school in the country would shut down…and maybe that’s a good thing.

  2. Mike, thank you for your comment. My position is that teachers are never warranted in striking. Teacher strikes hurt children the most, and there is no legitimate argument to the contrary. Further, I stand by my position that this strike is about teachers not students. While the the issues of nutritional content of school lunches and up-to-date technology in classrooms are extremely important issues, we both know those issues are not what this strike is about. No teachers union in America has gone on strike for those issues. As for schools needing reform, I agree completely, but I do not support teachers striking to bring about reform. Finally, regarding your issues as an employee of the district, if conditions go beyond your ability to tolerate them, you have the right to leave and go work somewhere else. Please understand that I am not saying that to slight you in anyway. I can make the same statement about myself. If conditions at the University of Kentucky become such that I am no longer comfortable working here, either because of my pay and benefits or because of a lack of quality in educational programs, I have the right to leave the University of Kentucky and go work somewhere else. What I do not have the right to do is disadvantage my students based on my dissatisfaction with my employer. That my friend, I believe to be unethical.

    We don’t have to guess about what the strike is about, the Strongsville City Schools has posted negotiation documents on its website: 
    Best wishes to you and your students.
  3. Dr. Lewis, I too fear that kids are used as political fodder in these salary negotiations. Teachers make a more compelling argument when student achievement is championed and secured.

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