Wednesday marked the first day of school for students, and it was not what one teacher who is crossing the picket line hoped for.
He said he feels like he and the teachers on strike both want what is best for the students, but have different thoughts on how to get there.
While teachers across Columbus spent the first day of class out on strike, some crossed the line and worked, including a middle school teacher who agreed to speak with us if we concealed his identity. He was online today with students who decided to log on.
“It wasn’t ideal, but it was good,” he said. “We saw hundreds and hundreds of students, lots of parents. We’ve got them started on a path. Is it a path I want my students on? No. Is it a path as a parent I’d want my kids on? No, but it’s better than nothing”
The teacher estimates 50 to 60% of his students logged on Wednesday. According to the union, the Columbus Education Association, 94% of its members voted to go on strike at a meeting this past Sunday.
The teacher said while he supports his striking colleagues, they have a different path toward providing for students.
“Absolutely understand that and I support them fully if they’re doing what they believe is best for the students and I believe they are,” he said. “I think that’s their truth. My truth is I felt like we weren’t at that point yet and that’s just my personal opinion.”
The union has been pushing for smaller class sizes and working air conditioning and heating district-wide. The man wants those things as well but said pay is also a sticking point.
“It’s still a negotiating point,” he said. “I know there are a lot of conversations around what comparison salaries to suburbs are, what other districts are paying their teachers. So, I believe it’s a bigger factor than anyone wants to admit to.”
He said he feels like he’s letting his co-workers down by crossing the picket line, but also said he feels this is the best way he can support his students.
“I think, in the end, we want the same results,” he said. “We want the same things for our students. We just see the path getting there to be different.”
This teacher has the same hope as many in the community: He wants the two sides to find common ground so students are back in the classroom as soon as possible.