Last week, when the freezing rain fell on Virginia, a student wearing only a light red sweater ran fifty feet from his modular trailer in the parking lot to the warmth of McLean High School in Fairfax County. ,
Overcrowded, more than 22,000 Fairfax County students receive training in cheap plywood trailers, often with visible signs of green mold parked next to the baseball fields next to the school. McClean High School.
These followers, the poor school funding in general, the low salary of the teachers and now the huge tax concessions that the state grants for the extraction of Amazon, led on Monday, the beginning of the last, to the strike of teachers a series of pedagogic strikes in the United States.
In Fairfax County, the third-richest district in the United States, there are more than 800 supporters acting as temporary classrooms, as the school district can not afford to build new classrooms.
“Our employees often say that Fairfax County Public Schools is the largest dealer of supporters on the East Coast of the United States,” joked Ryan McElveen, board member. “We own 820 trailers, more than any other company on the entire East Coast.”
Throughout Virginia, school districts have thousands of low-cost devotees who pose a risk to health and safety. Trailers often have low heating, their plywood construction makes them susceptible to mold, and in some schools, students have even reported accidental falls in their floors.
To reach the caravans, students often have to walk out of the schools to the nearby parking lots; They often come cold and wet to class and sometimes even get sick.
“In this era of school shootings, having our kids in caravans, open to the public without the security we have for the buildings, it’s dangerous, anyone can come in anytime, it’s not safe and it is not good.” , Learning environment, “said Rachna Sizemore, whose autistic son was forced to move to a school almost half an hour away due to overcrowded schools in Northern Virginia.
Located just a few miles from the moldy supporters of McLean High School, the proposed location is at the new Amazon headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia, directly across from the Lincoln Memorial’s Potomac River. Amazon’s influx of new residents in Northern Virginia is likely to increase only the RV parks outside the schools in Northern Virginia.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposes to increase education funding by $ 269 million. He has, however, almost threefold ($ 750 million) proposed to lure Amazon to the north of Virginia. The offer was made to secure the “HQ2” of Amazon, the technology company’s second headquarters, located between Virginia and a controversial second location in Long Island City, New York.
Teachers reject this and are now participating in the first nationwide strikes of teachers in the history of Virginia.
Inspired by a wave of #redforEd strikes that plagued the nation, Virginia teachers, who earn $ 9,000 less than the national average, ask Northam to reject tax cuts and instead invest the money to eliminate the caravan parks from so many schools in Virginia
“Like education deficits in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Los Angeles, Virginia would need to invest $ 1 billion to return to its funding levels before the recession,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. , Virginia “is ready to favor corporate tax credits over Amazon in public schools,” he said. “That is not right.”
In a statement, Gov. Alena Yarmosky’s spokesperson said, “Governor Northam knows that the salaries of teachers in Virginia are below the national average, so their proposed budget includes the highest salary increase in one year, just one year in 15 years.”
She said the budget proposed by the governor “describes significant investments in Virginia’s K-12 education system.”
Many argue that building new schools could create more jobs than bringing Amazon.
“Not only are we creating more jobs in the construction industry, but more classrooms mean more teachers, a lower teacher ratio per student and better schools are attractive to all,” said Lee Carter, a construction worker in a democratic socialist state. Representative from Northern Virginia.
The union leaders of teachers and their allies hope that the public support generated by the strike will make Northam brave on education spending.
The Virginia strike comes a week after the Weingarten union has reached a tentative agreement to end a historic strike in Los Angeles against the headmaster of the Democrats. As the previous strikes turned against the republican governments in Oklahoma and West Virginia, teachers are now turning more and more to democratic authorities like Northam in an increasingly democratic state like Virginia.
Currently, the Republicans control the House of Delegates of Virginia with only one vote and the Senate of Virginia with two votes. With the state legislature elections scheduled for this fall, many teachers hope they can press Northam to defend the teachers.
“Teachers have long been disempowered in this condition,” Carter said. “In Richmond, there is a lawmaker who decides,” Do we spend money or spend money in our schools to help with these massive political contributions? “And again and again these dollars go to the donors, but now that changes.”
Back in the trailer of the infested school system in Northern Virginia, many parents expect something to change.
“The other day I went through a construction site and my son saw a trailer, pointed to the trailer and said,” Mom, I see your school “and said,” No, honey, it’s a trailer, “said the school’s teacher, Fairfax County, Carla Okouchi “It’s heartbreaking that every child sees this structure as a school.”