Valerie Strauss sums up why the teachers’ renewed strike in West Virginia is different. It is not about pay. It’s about a fight for the future of public education. The teachers were fighting not only the local supporters of privatization. They were fighting the Koch brothers and ALEC.

Strauss writes:

This time, it wasn’t about pay.

West Virginia teachers walked off the job across the state Tuesday to protest the privatization of public education and to fight for resources for their own struggling schools.

It was the second time in a year that West Virginia teachers left their classrooms in protest. In 2018, they went on strike for nine days to demand a pay increase, help with high health-care costs and more school funding — and they won a 5 percent pay hike. On Tuesday, union leaders said that, if necessary, they would give up the pay hike as part of their protest. They are fighting legislation that would take public money from resource-starved traditional districts and use it for charter schools and for private and religious school tuition.

“Teachers are willing to forsake their raises for the proposition that public education must be protected and that their voices must be protected,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who went to Charleston, W.Va., for the strike Tuesday. “This was absolutely an effort to defund public education, and teachers fought it.”

Barely four hours into the strike, with hundreds of teachers packed into the statehouse, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted down the state Senate’s version of the omnibus education bill — despite pressure to pass it from conservative and libertarian groups, including some connected to the Koch network funded by billionaire Charles Koch.

It was not clear whether the House vote would put the bill to rest for good, but the episode underscored a growing determination among teachers around the country to fight for their public schools.

“I am DONE being disrespected,” Jessica Maunz Salfia, who teaches at Spring Mills High School in Berkeley County, W.Va., wrote in an open letter (see below) on Monday about why she was going to protest Tuesday.

West Virginia teachers remain at the forefront of a rebellion by educators throughout the country who began striking last year over meat-and-potatoes issues such as pay and health-care costs. But that movement has morphed into something broader: a fight in support of the U.S. public education system that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once called “a dead end.”

In state after state, teachers are saying the same things: Pay matters, but the future of public education matters more. Privatization is intolerable, whether by charters or vouchers.

No compromise with privatization!