The union is asking for working air conditioning systems, more planning time and smaller class sizes.
The Columbus School Board said it has made its final and best offer, which includes a 3% raise, limits on class size, and the promise of a “collaborative path forward.”
“What the Columbus Board of Education is not saying is that they don’t want to be held accountable for fixing the schools that Columbus students deserve,” said Regina Fuentes, one of the many educators on strike. “If they are going to hold us accountable, they need to be held accountable as well.”
Meanwhile, the first day of school beginning Wednesday is planned to start virtually.
Parent Kristin McCormick said her son won’t be going back, even virtually, until a deal is reached. She supports the teachers, but believes it’s unfortunate the education of children is hanging in the balance.
“My family is lucky because we have alternative childcare arrangements that we can work out,” she told NewsNation. “But not everybody has that privilege or access to those sorts of resources. So I’m sure that it’s feeling like a very urgent situation for the parents that don’t have that type of support.”
In neighboring Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, schools are also facing a hurdle to the start of the school year.
A week before school starts, 2,000 union workers — mainly bus drivers, attendants, mechanics and building cleaners — have voted to strike if negotiations stall.
All of this adds to the challenges of a national teacher shortage as many are walking away from the profession, citing high stress and low pay, coupled with culture war battles that have spilled into the classroom.
Nearly 45% of public schools will begin the 2022-23 school year with teaching vacancies; more than half are the result of resignations.
Between 2020 and 2022, approximately 600,000 teachers or staff left the profession, a drop of nearly 3%.