Ohio Teachers Union Strikes On First School Day After Summer Vacation, Reaches ‘Conceptual Agreement’

Ohio Teachers Union Strikes On First School Day After Summer Vacation, Reaches ‘Conceptual Agreement’

Teachers in Ohio’s largest school district held a strike on the first day of school after summer vacation before coming to an agreement with the school board early Thursday morning. 

Roughly 47,000 students in the Columbus School District were unable to attend classes in person on Wednesday as the Columbus Teacher’s Union continued its strike, alleging poor conditions. By early Thursday morning, the union and the school board had announced a “conceptual agreement.”

“Tonight, we are happy to report that we have reached a conceptual agreement with CEA leaders, and our children will return to in-person instruction on Monday. While the details cannot yet be disclosed, the contract recognizes the Board’s commitment to improving our student outcomes, the essential work of the CEA members, and strengthening our learning environments,” Columbus School Board President Jennifer Adair announced

Since Columbus students were unable to attend classes in person on Wednesday, they were told to go online for classes as the district brought in about 600 substitute teachers, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The online program caused trouble for some, likely due to the large number of students attempting to log in at the same time. 

“I want to assure you that our team is working hard to improve the systems and processes in place as we move forward in this unique environment,” said Superintendent Talisa Dixon. “We are adjusting how we distribute technology resources and how we monitor attendance while improving access to our online resources. We will continue to work until we solve these problems.”

Columbus students will be online for classes again on Thursday and Friday. 

The teachers union, which last went on strike in 1975, is demanding smaller class sizes, art and physical education classes, upgraded air conditioning, and a cap on the number of class periods per day. Signs held up by those picketing on Wednesday included “Columbus schools deserve working air” and “a history lesson in progress.” 

The strike had been initiated after an overwhelming vote in favor by the union on Sunday. 

“We offered a generous compensation package for teachers and provisions that would have a positive impact on classrooms,” the school board said on Wednesday. 

In response to the strike, the Center for Christian Virtue, a Christian policy group, purchased billboards throughout the area encouraging parents to enroll their kids in private schools. 

“Columbus City Schools have reached a new low,” said Aaron Baer, the group’s president. “After everything children have endured for the last three years, from being locked out of school under the guise of ‘safety protocols’ to being subjected to failing educational standards, now the schools have kicked kids out yet again, mere days before they were to report to class.”

The billboards point to possible scholarships to attend private schools and advocate for the proposed Backpack Bill. This bill would allow parents to use school vouchers from the state to send their children to private schools.