Aug 23, 2022 - News

How COVID set the stage for Columbus' teachers strike

Illustration of a student being held from walking forward by an arrow cursor piercing their pant leg

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Though not obvious, the Columbus Education Association (CEA) strike represents another pandemic ripple.

Catch up quick: Using $7 million in federal COVID relief funds allocated from the Columbus City Council in 2020, the district bought enough laptops for students to learn online for the first time.

Now the devices give the district a fallback during the strike, meaning substitute teachers don't have to physically cross a picket line to be in the "classroom."

Context: It's not just Columbus. Pickerington threatened online classes last year due to overcrowding as it pursues levy funds for a new junior high school.

Of note: In the largely online 2020-21 school year, 75% of Columbus students were chronically absent, per the district's state report card.

Meanwhile, teachers are still experiencing a paradigm shift to access more leverage in the pandemic's wake, Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, tells Axios.

  • "I think it just finally hit people at a core level, that they can and should have a voice … and that they don't have to just step in line and do whatever they're told," she says..

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