Why Are Teachers on Strike & How to Support Teachers

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It doesn’t take much more than a swipe of the news or listening ear of a parent to know that teachers are typically underpaid and underserved. Ultimately, this means that our children are under supported as well.
As a result we often see things like the Chicago teacher strike, West Virginia teacher strike, and the Denver teacher strike. It’s happening all across the nation – but what does it mean? What exactly is a teacher strike and why are teachers on strike?teacher strike

What does a teacher strike mean?

Very simply put a teacher strike is when a group of teachers refuse to work as means of a protest. They want their voice heard over a specific topic(s) and this makes it public. Typically teacher strikes revolve around a strategic time where their voice can make the biggest difference as contracts are negotiated, state funding is voted on, etc.

Why do teachers go on strike?

There are many reasons why teachers go on strike but typically it has to do with money for resources or salary in contract negotiation. It can also be because of working conditions, curriculum or testing, staffing size, classroom size, or any number of other ideas that teachers want to be heard on.

However you tend to see more strikes when contract negotiations or under funded classrooms are an important topic. Although my husband (a teacher turned principal) has never joined a strike, he has been at plenty of severely under funded schools which provided no funding at all for basic school supplies in the classroom.

How long do teachers go on strike for?

The length of time that teachers go on strike for depends on the specific reason(s) they are striking. Typically the strike can range from 2 days to 2 weeks, although one strike lasted for 8 whole months!

Will schools be open during a teacher strike?

I always recommend contacting your specific school to see whether they are open or not but most times schools close during teacher strike simply because they do not have the substitute teaching staff structure in place for such a large number of absent workers.

Some schools, however, will be available for access and meals during this time frame.

What is the average teacher’s salary?

No matter what numbers you look at when you google “what is the average teacher’s salary” – this answer can change WILDLY depending on whether you are looking at public or private school, location, etc.

We have either ourselves or personally know teachers who make in the $20,000 range all the way to teachers that make $150,000+ range – with similar grade levels and experience! So don’t let “average teacher salary” amount skew your way of thinking!

However, if you’re looking at public school teachers, their salaries are public for each district based on a rubric. So you can search your specific district teacher salaries.


There are a lot of opinions about teacher strikes, and strikes in general – especially when it comes to effecting children and their education. Some say you can’t make change without your voices being heard. Some say both teachers AND students deserve better than what is being offered.

And other says not only are we hurting our students during strikes but we are putting out the working parents who now have to find alternative child care during teacher strikes.

You can follow the hashtags #StrikesMakeChange and #DontStopTeaching to see both sides of the parties. Our education system DOES have a problem and there is plenty to be changed.

school computer lab and library

Is there a more effective way to make voices heard than striking? Weigh in and let me know how you feel about teachers going on strike below! Should teachers continue teaching students so their education isn’t disrupted?

Or should teachers stand up and fight for something different, even if it means stopping educational efforts for their students?

There’s no doubt about it – whether you support teacher strikes or not – there is NO easy answer and every decision can create a staggering ripple effect, positive or not.


How to Support Your Teachers:

Below are a few ways you can support your teachers.

  • Tell them you support them! Be their ally in helping educate your children!
  • Sign up as a classroom parent! Help organize experiments, parties, field trips & more!
  • Classroom supplies! Pick up an extra pack of paper or dry erase markers each time you go shopping.
  • Offer help! Ask if they need anything cut out, organized, graded, etc.
  • Donate books! Pick up extra books at your local thrift store and offer them to your teachers!
  • Show up at events. Teachers work hard to prepare their students for special events – show your support to your teachers AND your children just by being there.
  • Don’t call them on the weekend! I get it – it’s easy to do, but let them have their time away from work just like you do!
  • Teacher appreciation gifts don’t just need to be on a special day! Pick up a $5-10 gift card any time of the year, or an extra coffee or doughnut!
  • Donate to DonorsChoose.org – help fund classroom projects online!

Items You can Donate to Classrooms to Make a Difference:

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