State of the Schools Walk-In Set
On Wednesday, January 9th, Governor Justice will hold his annual State of the State address as the kickoff to the legislative session. Governor Justice will outline his overview of the state and its future for this year.
As we all recall, Governor Justice said at last year’s State of the State address that a mediocre 2% raise for teachers would show the state’s commitment to creating 21st century schools. Soon thereafter, PEIA reports began coming out that showed the 2% raise would immediately be eaten up by premium raises as a new tier system would simultaneously be set up to make this raise more costly for working educators. Furthermore, at the MLK Rally Day several days later, educators were told by House Education Committee members that plans for education savings accounts would be proposed this session so as to provide for greater homeschool opportunities, using public tax dollars with little or no accountability to ensure students were actually learning.
Now, in 2019, as Senator Rucker leads the Senate Education Committee, we expect the legislature and Governor Justice to propose more of the same: mediocre pay increases, plugging premium increases in PEIA without a long-term revenue stream, and an accelerated process of privatization. None of this will truly assist West Virginians in creating some of the best schools this country has to offer.
As Justice will be speaking that evening, West Virginia children will be returning home from schools that have fewer school counselors, psychologists, and larger class sizes than we have witnessed in decades. Coupled with the opioid crisis that has devastated our state, our students are facing economic and familial challenges the likes of which have not been seen in years. In these moments of crisis, the legislature and Governor Justice will almost certainly demand that testing accountability show improvement before larger investments are dedicated to public schools. Without this accountability, there is almost certainly the possibility that this human-made crisis will provoke a response that demands the introduction of charter schools - first a few, then more - to solve this crisis.
We, the West Virginia United caucus, call upon all teachers to hold statewide walk-ins at their schools on Wednesday, January 9th, to show not only our solidarity with one another, but our commitment to our communities. We recognize that this crisis has devastated our students and their home lives. Because of this unparalleled crisis, we ask for a significant investment in hiring new school counselors, psychologists, and reducing class sizes to ensure all student needs are met each and every day.
On January 9th, we will show that the #55Strong movement has not wavered not faltered since March.