You always hear the saying, “not all heroes wear capes.” That’s exactly the case when it comes to West Virginia teachers and teachers all across the nation.
I have said it before, though it goes without saying, teachers teach more than just curriculum. For years and years, teachers have used money out of their own pockets and from their own bank accounts to pay for supplies for their classrooms. They buy their students food when they don’t have much to eat at home; they sit with students after school waiting for their parent to get home from their second job; and they are a constant shoulder to lean on and a support system for children who need it. They teach compassion and work ethic, and as they demonstrated earlier this year, how to stand up for yourself and what’s right.
During this year’s legislative session West Virginia teachers stood together for better wages and healthcare and in doing so secured a pay raise for all state employees. Their solidarity and perseverance for not only themselves but their coworkers, neighbors, and students, showed the rest of the nation what it truly means to be a West Virginian. Did I mention that the movement was spearheaded and dominated by women?
The groundbreaking movement for teachers in West Virginia started from the ground up with teachers that were fed up and tired of being taken advantage of. Now, teachers across the nation are striking and demanding better pay.
Throughout the name-calling, closed doors, and disrespectful remarks from the Republican leaders, our teachers kept going no matter what Republicans said to them or how often they ignored them.
Democrats stood hand in hand with our teachers and put forth plans to raise their pay and fund PEIA only to be denied by the Republican leadership. That didn’t stop us then and it won’t stop us now. Our teachers deserve way more than their victorious 5% pay raise. They deserve way more than we could ever give them, but Democrats vow to continue the fight alongside our teachers.
It’s National Teacher Appreciation week and Democrats appreciate our teachers, but simple appreciation is not enough. Our teachers deserve better classroom environments for our students, higher pay with better benefits, and the respect that is long overdue.
Appreciating our teachers is a good place to start, but appreciating them means paying them more and fixing PEIA, and it means fighting for them the way they fight for our children. We vow today and every single day moving forward to continue our fight alongside teachers.
When you see a teacher today, thank them.
Belinda Biafore, Chair