Senate Bill 451 Recap: What led to the second teacher strike in 13 months
Since its introduction less than a month ago, Senate Bill 451 has gone through several hands and multiple changes before being tabled indefinitely.
We have a recap of the events that led to the second statewide teacher strike in 13 months.
Senate Bill 451—the Comprehensive Education Reform bill--is introduced to the West Virginia Senate Education Committee. A rare motion is made to bypass the Senate Finance Committee, and the bill is moved straight to the Senate.
Educators begin to speak out against bill, saying they were not consulted during its creation.
The first reading of the bill takes place in the Senate. The 137-page bill includes a promised 5% pay raise for teachers, the establishment of public charter schools for the 2019-2020 school year, the creation of an Education Savings Account (ESA) Program, and the ability for local boards of education to adjust their levy rates.
The bill is read a second time. Amendments by Senators Trump, Clements, Rucker, Smith, and Tabuko are adopted. Among them is setting the maximum income for families with a child applying for an ESA to less than $150,000 and that levy rate increases must be approved by voters.
SB 451 is read a third time and passed in the Senate.
The bill is introduced to the West Virginia House of Delegates. A motion is made to postpone the bill indefinitely, but it is tabled. The bill is sent to the House Education Committee and is amended to cap the number of charter schools to six, take away the possibility of virtual charter schools, and ESA availability limited to students with special needs.
The decision is made to hold a public hearing on February 11th regarding the bill.
A second public hearing is put on the agenda for February 11th.
The first of public hearings regarding Senate Bill 451 are held at the state capitol. Speakers for and against the bill are each given 70 seconds. Most speakers are against the bill, and main topics are charter schools and the ESAs.
The second hearing is held with speakers getting 85 seconds to talk. Several parents speak out in support of the bill, citing school choice. Others raise the same concerns as those against the bill in the first hearing.
The amended bill is read for the first time.
The bill is read for a second time. Several amendments are proposed and the amount of charter schools is reduced to a pilot program of two.
The ESAs are removed completely.
The bill has its third reading and is passed in the House. The revised version is moved to the Senate.
Senators shake things up by amending the bill to allow for up to 7 charter schools. The new version also includes 1,000 ESAs. The bill goes back to the House.
In a joint press conference, the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, and the West Virginia Education Association call for a statewide strike to begin on February 19th.
Putnam County is the only county to keep schools open. Teachers and supporters hit the picket lines protesting against SB 451.
A motion is made in the House of Delegates to indefinitely postpone the bill. The motion is passed, effectively killing the bill. Education officials thank the House and say they will discuss the next steps.
Rumors circulate that there is a possibility of a re-vote, but officials we spoke with were not aware of a new vote.
A press conference is scheduled for 7 p.m. regarding the strike.
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You can find more details, including full versions of the bill at the Related Link (to the right on desktop, below on mobile).