Dear friends, community members, parents, and fellow Berkeley County education employees,
Tomorrow for the second time in my career, I will walk off the job I love. I will leave my classroom and the great work of my life because of the disregard and disrespect of the WV Senate GOP.
I have been a teacher in this county for 15 years -- a good one. I could list the hundreds of success stories from my classroom, my certifications, or the awards I’ve won over the years to prove that I deserve to be heard, that I deserve respect.
But I shouldn’t have to.
I shouldn’t have to give my resume every time the WV Legislature presents some new damaging educational legislation. I shouldn’t have to watch dozens of my colleagues leave for Maryland and Virginia schools every year where they are treated with respect.
There is no doubt our educational system in West Virginia needs strengthening. We need reform. But teachers could tell you what real reform looks like.
We have advocated for smaller class size caps, content specific and specialized training, time to collaborate and plan, later school start times, competitive salaries, mental health professionals in our schools, school nurses for every building, and a dedicated revenue source for PEIA.
Instead of listening to the warriors who have been working on the front lines of a poverty and opioid epidemic, the West Virginia Senate GOP cobbled together a grease trap piece of legislation that was written mostly by OUT OF STATE corporate entities that ignores the requests of highly qualified West Virginia educators.
This bill would allow unregulated charter schools and educational savings accounts to gut our already fragile system.
And to add insult to injury, they said these measures would create “competition” for teachers and students -- that choice would make us all work harder. But here’s the thing, education can’t be run like a business because we aren’t dealing with a “product,” we’re dealing with children. The danger of having a “CEO” instead of a principal or a teacher means the bottom line is not the well-being of our communities or students, but profit margins and success rates.
When you say schools should compete with each other, the implication is that some schools and students should “win” and others should “lose.”
I have made it the work of my life to teach ALL kids.
I, and many other teachers from all over this state, tried to make our concerns heard in Charleston, but we were only given 70 seconds a piece to speak. Out of state corporate lobbyists, folks that MAKE MONEY profiting from the charter school system, were allowed to present to both the Senate and House education committees.
I am DONE being disrespected.
So I will be on strike on tomorrow, and for God only knows how long after that.
I am done holding my breath every January to see what and how the working class citizens of this state will have to fight to just live paycheck to paycheck.
Striking is not fun. No teacher wants to be standing outside in the cold being shouted at and spit at. But it is necessary. Because Mitch Carmichael, Craig Blair, and Patricia Rucker have decided that PAC money and out of state interests are more important than the education of this state’s children. I cannot and will not abide it.
And when this is over, this county needs to take a HARD look at ourselves and who we elect. Elections have consequences and those fools behind this nonsense belong to us. And it is time for them to go. I want to teach in this county and this state. But I can’t keep fighting like hell every January and February to do it. #55Strong [facebook.com] #55United [facebook.com]