For years, lawmakers in West Virginia operated out of a destructive fiscal playbook—starve public schools, refuse to pay teachers what they deserve, and take away any voice teachers have to support their students.
Last year, teachers and school service personnel in West Virginia sent a clear message when they walked out of their classrooms: Our students deserve better. In this grass-roots movement, teachers and school staff in West Virginia spent nine days on the picket line in February and March, fighting back against dwindling paychecks, rising healthcare costs and under-resourced classrooms.
They won a pay increase, but that was just a down payment. Besides being promised an additional 5 percent raise, lawmakers also pledged to put $100 million in their health insurance funds.
Continuing the momentum into the new year, West Virginia educators held a “walk-in” rally on Jan. 9, before the school day started, to draw attention to the continued inadequate funding for their classrooms and to ensure the state’s political leaders keep their promises.
AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert says, “Today, on the first day of the West Virginia legislative session, teachers and school service personnel from around the state held walk-ins to demonstrate our unending support for public education.”
West Virginia’s educators’ requests are simple: certainty and stability in their healthcare benefits, professional wages they can live on and resources for their students.
[Elizabeth Sell, image credit Jessica Salfia]