I am trying really hard to understand why the West Virginia Senate - which holds the key to unlocking this far-too-long teacher's strike - flatly refused to even take up the issue for the last two days of last week.
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
I am trying really hard to understand why the West Virginia Senate - which holds the key to unlocking this far-too-long teacher’s strike - flatly refused to even take up the issue for the last two days of last week.
And if you've been following the news over the weekend, well that's a whole 'nother story, as my mother used to say.
Teachers and service personnel who had been standing out in the cold and rain since Feb. 22 to protest the embarrassingly small pay raise being dangled in front of them, along with the projected embarrassingly high increase in their insurance, were encouraged by Gov. Jim Justice’s promise made on Feb. 28 to up that raise and put PEIA on hold until a task force could look at it a little closer.
They were also cautious, however, - and rightly so - in declaring the strike over until the last signature was inked on the bill. As it turns out, the Governor promised something that the legislators didn’t deliver and schools in the state remain closed.
Did Gov. Justice have knowledge of some “found” money that the legislators didn’t have access to and he’s not providing the figures to prove it?
Or was he just blowing smoke to get the state’s teachers and kids back in the classroom?
The members of the House apparently took him at his word and immediately passed the bill the next day.
The Senate, however, not only refused to take it up but also placed it in the hands of the Finance Committee, which adjourned early Thursday and refused to meet on Friday.
Now you and I know serving this great state as a delegate or senator is not a 9-5 job. Many late hours are often spent researching and refining even the minutest of details in bills so they can be passed and presented to the Governor.
So where is that extra effort with this bill? I completely understand the need to be fiscally responsible, especially as West Virginia struggles to put its financial difficulties behind and move forward into a more stable future.
It would seem to me, however, that a bill that affects the education of every student in the state would warrant a little more immediate attention from our representatives.
My hat is off to all the teachers in Mineral County who have gone the extra mile during this difficult time to help make this break in the educational calendar as easy as possible for their students.
Not only did many of them, with the help of businesses and volunteers in the community, reach out to their students and help make sure they are receiving lunches during their time away from school, but they also have offered their time helping those students to catch up with the very critical prep time for such things as college exams, senior projects, and applications for scholarships.
We have some very wonderful, dedicated and hard-working teachers and service personnel in our county. We should be proud of their commitment to our children.
Time after time, as I have covered the board of education for the paper I hear about awards, honors and recognitions our students bring upon themselves. They couldn’t do that without the guidance and inspiration they receive from their teachers.
It's time for the Senate to put politics and egos aside and move on this important issue.
Let’s give these folks what they deserve and let’s do it asap so we can get these kids back in school!