Teachers in Columbus, Ohio have voted to go on strike just two days before the school year is scheduled to begin.
Columbus is the state’s largest school district, serving approximately 47,000 students in 112 schools.
The teachers are demanding smaller class sizes, air conditioning, and full-time art, music and physical education teachers in elementary schools.
The Columbus Education Association (CEA), representing approximately 4,000 district teachers, said that 94 percent of their members voted in favor of a strike unless their demands were met.
— Columbus Education Association (@ColumbusEA) August 20, 2022
Supporters and members of the union picketed at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
I’m here in Columbus on the picket line with our brave @ColumbusEA union family and their community as they fight for better learning conditions, smaller class sizes, and ensuring students have art, music, and PE instruction. #ColumbusStudentsDeserve pic.twitter.com/O0Lnf7zmAK
— Princess Moss (@PrincessRMoss) August 22, 2022
The scene at the Greater Columbus Convention Center as CEA spills out from their vote to strike. pic.twitter.com/HVQAqcA2Wp
— Stacia Naquin (@StaciaWSYX6) August 22, 2022
Columbus City Schools has responded to the strike, saying that the vote to strike was “incredibly disappointing.” The district says that they offered a “generous compensation package” and provisions that would have a “positive impact on classrooms.”
“Our offer to CEA put children first and prioritized their education and their growth,” Jennifer Adair, Board of Education President, said in a statement. “We offered a generous compensation package for teachers and provisions that would have a positive impact on classrooms. Our offer was also responsive to the concerns that have been raised by CEA during the negotiations process. Our community’s children are the Board’s priority, and our offer reflected that fact.”
Due to the strike, Adair said that students will be learning online instead of a classroom for the first day of school.
“School starts on Wednesday, which means our children will be learning online. We know this is not ideal, but we have an obligation to continue educating and supporting students despite the current circumstances,” Adair said. “We value and respect our teachers, and we will continue on a path toward collaborative solutions that address what is best for our children.”
The union is calling for parents and students to not cross the picket line, even virtually, and to not participate in online classes.
“Honoring CEA’s picket line means that you won’t enter school property where a physical picket line has been established,” the union said in a statement on their website. “It also means that students won’t engage in any so-called online synchronous and asynchronous ‘learning’ pursuant to CCS’ Alternative Opening Plan. Crossing the picket line prolongs the strike.”
This is the first teacher strike in the district since 1975.