Where Do Teachers Go From Here?Published:December 9, 2020
More than a month has passed since the 2020 Election and educators in West Virginia now face a difficult situation for the foreseeable future. Many incumbents friendly to public education lost, leaving public education in a bind for the next two years. Now, we must ask ourselves, “Where do teachers go from here?”
Yes, Mitch Carmichael will no longer hold elected office, but matters are worse. Craig Blair will likely succeed Carmichael as Senate President, meaning he will control the agenda of the Senate. Blair is no friend of education, nor is charter schools advocate Patricia Rucker. These two uninformed lawmakers lead a core of anti-education politicians who have hurt and will continue to hurt public education.
With the legislative session starting in the next month, we must fight an uphill battle. We need to make changes now.
We can affect change!
Please consider engaging in the political process through one or more of the following ways …
1. Teachers and service personnel must organize more effectively and take action to bring out more voters.
In West Virginia, only 63% of eligible voters participated in this election. While this represents a significant increase in voter turnout, it still translates to nearly two out of five eligible voters staying home in an election where participating was easier than at any point in our nation’s history.
2. Directly engage lawmakers from both parties.
The pandemic creates serious problems for face to face meetings with members of the legislature, but we have a variety of other ways to communicate with government officials. Senators and Delegates have contact information in the forms of e-mail addresses, phone numbers (office and personal), mailing addresses, and social media accounts easily accessible online. Also, ask when you can connect with them via Zoom to discuss your concerns.
If you would like to contact an elected official, consider asking about the following:
- Their stances on public education issues — make them write, type, speak, or otherwise articulate their views
- What actions they plan to take to improve public education
- Their previous votes in the legislature if they are a returning delegate or senator
- What bills they have sponsored or written
- Did they consult professionals in the field when considering a bill
- Specific actions on how they plan to gain support for their bills within the legislature
3. Recruit candidates for office who will actively fight to change public education for the better.
Find and encourage individuals in your community to run for office. Ask these individuals to include public school support as a key issue for their campaign. Running for office is a difficult task, but the right support system will encourage good men and women to run.
4. Support education friendly candidates.
Use social media platforms, discussions with friends, connections with anyone you know, and voice your support for education friendly campaigns. Find candidates you value in your hometown. Donate a few dollars to a campaign. Place a campaign sign in your yard. Share credible information. Make phone calls in support of a candidate.
5. Work with an already existing group of educators or create one.
The American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association provide solidarity and actively lobby and organize for public education. Consider joining or supporting these groups. Additionally, other options exist if you do not feel a union membership is right for you. The West Virginia United Caucus is a grassroots political organization which maintains a similar mission to our own.
It’s up to us!
We can make a positive impact on policy and the elected leaders of this state. However, we must take active steps to facilitate change for the betterment of public education. Where do teachers go from here? That answer largely depends upon us. Employees of public education make up a sizable block of voters and we possess a significant amount of power if we move in the same direction. Now is the time to act.
WE COUNT ON YOUR SUPPORT
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