Albemarle County teachers on strike until demands for smarter students are met


Albemarle teachers have taken to the streets with their own plan for how to improve Charlottesville’s public-school system.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Inside the classrooms and hallways of Albemarle High School, there is a stillness only

occasionally broken by the sounds of the janitorial staff making their daily rounds. The activity is outside, where in front of a rusty chain-link fence stand a motley assortment of people standing in a loose line. They are outfitted in the business casual style of T.J. Maxx. Their eyes are bleary due to the lack of state-subsidized Keurig coffee. Their voices are monotonous and rhythmic from decades of expounding the virtues of the mitochondria, the formal “usted” and the five-paragraph essay. They are united. Together they stand. Together they shall rise.

Each holds a piece of cheap, white poster board with a slogan or phrase plastered on its surface. The margins are one inch. The font is Times New Roman. The message is the same.

“Give us our due diligence — Give us intelligence!”

“We’re in the Biz for Whiz Kids.”

“We’re human. We want Acumen.”

“Fight for our Right to Bright.”

It’s day 30 of the Albemarle County Teachers’ Union Strike. Inspired the Oklahoma Teachers’

Strike for more school funding, Albemarle teachers have taken to the streets with their own plan for how to improve the county’s public-school system. The idea is simple. What’s the easiest way to get better schools? Get smarter students. An interview with strike leader Martha Jenkins, an AP Macroeconomics teacher at Monticello High School, was very informative about the logic of the strike. 

“School performance can almost be directly attributed to the intelligence of the students the school system contains. This might surprise you, but schools with smarter students on average get more kids into Ivy League universities,” Jenkins said. “In addition, teacher workload is greatly reduced when dealing with students who already understand the material. Between these two facts alone, the answer to how to improve Albemarle’s public schools is simple. To be able to best serve the student body, we need the best and brightest.”

However, the strikers face an uphill battle. Pushback from the school system’s administration

has been severe. Superintendent Daniel Roche discussed the county’s view of the strike. 

“The union’s demands are just absurd,” Roche said. “Do they think that if the Albemarle system had the ability to just magically gain smarter students, we wouldn’t? The budget simply won’t allow it. The average cost of importing an Ivy League material student from NOVA is $25,000. That’s simply unsustainable for our county.”

Meetings between strike leaders and administration have not proved especially fruitful. A compromise was about to be reached when leaders and administration agreed to a program in which the school system would create and evenly distribute 43 clones of Western Albemarle High School valedictorian Samantha Brookridge. Her high SAT scores, class presidency, and cute anecdote about nursing a baby owl back to health make her college admissions gold. However, negotiations broke down due to complaints of how this solution would lead to a lack of diversity in student body. 

Both the teachers and administration officials are certain that their side is correct in the

feasibility of improving Albemarle high schools. Only time will tell how this dispute will resolve.

William Tonks is a Humor columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at

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