AFT Leaders on West Virginia Strike
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Statement by AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on why West Virginia teachers are striking again. Weingarten and Albert will be at the picket line at Capital High School in Charleston at 9:15 a.m.
“Last year, West Virginia’s public school teachers walked out of their schools for the resources their students and schools needed and to stop the escalating healthcare costs that were lowering their wages and forcing them to leave the teaching profession or take second and third jobs. Now, the state Senate is trying for a second time this year to ram through a so-called education bill that defunds public education, retaliates against teachers who stood up for their students last year, and appears to be driven by outside wealthy interests like Americans for Prosperity that, like Betsy DeVos, want to eliminate public schools.
“The House rejected the Senate’s first attempt to retaliate and defund public education in a bipartisan vote by 71 to 29. The Senate bill that popped up late today once again tries to take away the voice of teachers and their ability to work in well-resourced schools. It would take money away from public schools in favor of strategies like education savings accounts and charter schools that so many other school systems around the country have rejected.
“Given the Senate’s actions—ramming through a secret bill on a purely partisan vote, after the House has rejected it and the governor has said he would veto these type of retaliatory measures—the educators of West Virginia have no choice but to once again walk out for our students and our public schools. We won’t let outside interests rig West Virginia’s politics; silence the voices of teachers, parents and our communities; and defund our students’ public schools. West Virginians want to fund our future, and that’s what the Senate should be focused on.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.