Source: REUTERS/Nate Chute

How do I put this… West Virginia is a failed state.

Last night, at midnight, the 82nd legislature of the state of West Virginia packed up its circus and went home. During this session, they essentially put the dagger in what was left of our unions, they abolished prevailing wage, tried to pass an archaic pro-discrimination law against the LGBT community, and effectively instituted a 12% pay cut to state employees under the guise that they were doing us a favor. In West Virginia, state employees make up 20% of the labor force (which is the highest of any other employer) meanwhile giving the fossil fuel industry, mainly coal (who of which makes up 4% of state employment) a tax break in the midst of 385 million budget deficit. They also eliminated Common Core Standards for our public schools and tried to manipulate science curriculum in favor of the coal and gas industry. Thus, removing standards that would infer that climate change is being accelerated by humans (which is …you know, scientific fact). All of this progress in 60 days! Sigh…

So, what does this have to with WV being a failed state?

The current congress did absolutely nothing to address the current budget crisis and sub-sequential plummet of what is left of West Virginia. Addiction is running rampant with absolutely no signs of slowing down. So in response, our congress decides to spend millions of dollars on drug testing welfare recipients. This doesn’t address the problem of addiction, just punishes the children that live in these households, on top of spending more state revenue on the tests. States have tried drug testing welfare recipients and have found almost zero correlation to drug addiction and welfare benefits… but I digress. We rank in the bottom 5 in every educational statistic; teacher salary, turnover, student achievement, attendance, post high school education and so forth and so on. Our legislature shelved or wouldn’t hear anything that mentioned teacher or state raises, unless of course they were going to give themselves one. No mention to the fact that we rank 51st in the country in kids separated from their parents or living in foster homes. We also rank 44th in teen brith rate. I could spit statistics till the cows come home, but here in the dubV we don’t pay attention to statistics, just what Fox news or the slap dick on Facebook says. If its on Facebook it has to be truth…right?

God… as I sit and write this I cannot be passive aggressive anymore! I have to talk and be honest, I am furious, literally angry and frustrated beyond comprehension. I teach in a school where I see and talk to kids everyday that don’t eat on the weekends, and sometimes in the evenings. In the past month I have had kids tell me that they had been kicked out of their houses with no where else to go. Also, in an institute of public education, I was physically engaged by an enraged student who had just assaulted another student, and this is just in the past month!!! Are you kidding me!! I have seen kids come in my room with meth burns on their face, kids coming in my class after going to court for a custody hearing, and you want me to make them care about Ancient Rome?? I am sorry but our society is complete and utter insanity right now. Period.

This is not rare air in West Virginia. This is life for a sickening amount of kids in the mountain state. But please, by all means Senator Carmichael, Delegate Ihle, Delegate Westfall, Senator Cole, Delegate Householder, and any other congressperson who is putting their own interest in front of our kids and communities, continue to promote division and hate. Continue to bring wages down so that you can increase your bottom lines. Continue to tell us that it is not governments duty to create jobs. Continue to devalue teachers who see it first hand every single day. Continue to seal the coffin on our beloved West Virginia. 

I will no longer be apart of the problem. I will not cast a single vote for anyone that doesn’t legislate for me and my families interest. I will stand up for the kids that I teach and mentor. I will be an advocate for the ones who don’t have a voice, because I know who they are and witness their pain daily. I will stand with any teacher that came into this profession to change lives and not for the money. I will strive to achieve the goals I have for my life.  In the end this our fault. We got exactly what we asked for in this state. We elected an inept, selfish majority, and now we are paying for it. Our communities are crumbling and a tremendous amount of tax money funded this circus for 60 days. They have done nothing, we are worse now than we were yesterday, but we can change it. We are the only ones who can. Our elected officials don’t value education but it is the only way out. It saved my life, knowledge truly is power. Please, do your homework, vote for the person that will help make your life better… I know I will.


34 thoughts on “The Truth about the Failed State of West Virginia … Everyone needs to read this. #rememberinnovember

  1. Be certain to remind the kids that you teach and mentor that WV had a democratic led “congress” (that’s actually “legislature”) for the previous 50 or so years that put this state in last place in almost every economic and social category known to man! Don’t leave anything out…

    1. I’m not a die hard democrat, actually I’m an independent, so I criticize both sides of the coin. But you cannot argue that this “legislature” did nothing for 90% of this state. Also I used the term congress because of esthetic. I’m glad that you were so angry that you took a shot at my use of vocabulary!


      1. It was obvious to some of us who know that ‘congress’ was used properly in your post, because, we studied. For the poor fellow that doesn’t know… a congress can be any formal meeting where people come together to discuss issues, in contrast to ‘Congress’…with a capital ‘C’…. ‘I got your back’… (end of grammar police lesson of the day)

    2. Out of everything you just read, that us what you comment with. Last time I checked, every West Virginian is struggling. Our system has failed our children be it Democratic, Republican or somewhere in between. I imagine, one day, we will turn this around but it isn’t going to be by pointing fingers and laying blame. I see adults so outraged on a daily basis, they make remarks about one another’s education, IQ, stupidity level, simply based on who he or she supports. We all have a right to vote how we wish and we need to teach our children it is a right, even a duty, they shouldn’t take lightly, that being said, we also, through our actions, need to teach them to respect others same rights. We are all fed up. Talking mean to each other solves nothing.

  2. I agree with everything you said, Justin. You’re right, we can make a difference…all we have to do is vote. Vote for responsible leaders who represent our best interests and not those of special interests. I have always been proud to say that I am from West Virginia, but not at this time. Our Legislature turned its back on the people of this state and undid all the progress that labor leaders and those who value our state have made over the last several decades. It didn’t take them long to turn on those who have looked to this body to do what’s best for them and their children. I am saddened by their decisions and will “Remember in November”.

  3. This thing of who the most in the Senate and the House get what they want needs to come to an end. We need people in Charleston that will vote for the good and what the State needs instead of one person telling them how to vote. If they can’t work as a group and for the good of the State they need to be voted out.

    1. When a crazy person approaches u w a gun that has not been registered, does not know how to safely use that gun & has a mental problem or on drugs, will u look down at the hole in ur body & say that ahole just shot me & I’m going to die!!!

  4. Amen. A friend shared this on Facebook- I moved to Boston from Wv 15 years ago as a single mom with a 3 year old. I meant to come back. When I realized the huge difference between growing up as a kid (my son) here where social services and education are almost holy I couldn’t go home to where education is an afterthought and kids without a safety net are “trouble” And I want to, but not til my boys are done with school

  5. I left West Virginia and all of my family in 2002 to move to the Lexington, Kentucky area. It was incredible to watch the rapid growth of both residential and business property. I had never seen so many new buildings and they just kept coming. Growth everywhere. In 2005, I moved to Columbus, Ohio and again I am living in an area where there is growth continually. When I went back to visit Charleston, I saw the same buildings that have been there since I was a child in the 60’s. They’ve had paint added, perhaps an addition here and there and may have had several different businesses in them over the years, but there is little growth. The most growth has been at Corridor G in that area. West Virginia is stagnate. Life is old there and most of the folks are perfectly content with that. If you’re content with an unchanging environment without growth, it’s a great place to live. The natural beauty of the state is hard to find anywhere else.


  7. I must say getting rid of common core is a good thing. Teachers need to teach, not just teach our kids to pass a test. I pulled my son out of the worthless testing that his school was doing. They spent 3 weeks doing nothing but being taught to pass the test. Why? For tax dollars. It is not the schools job to raise our children, that is our job as parents, get agencies like dhhr out of out lifes. You want better schools, children, and families? BRING PRAYER BACK IN SCHOOLS. That’s when all the problems began, take your liberal crap back to the big cities , we don’t want it. End of rant.

    1. Prayer back in Schools? REALLY??? With all that’s wrong? Prayer was Never taken out of Schools. Any child can say a prayer Any Time they please, IN Silence. Without Forcing others to participate. You see there’s plenty of time for Parents to do THEIR job and TEACH RELIGION AT HOME AT NIGHT, ON WEEKENDS AND AT CHURCH. School is for Education. Besides You would piss down your leg the first time class stopped for Prayer rugs to be laid out. After all IF you give time to ONE religion, You Must Give Time To All.

      1. Allen, I just want to tell you that I totally agree w/ you. As you recognize…I often ask, “Whose prayer do you want said?” I am a devout Christian just shake my head when people declare that the problem is not having prayer in school. The Bible teaches that it is the parents’ responsibility to train their children in such matters. Children are either equipped or not at HOME. Fine if a class is offered in which people can choose and fine if each person carries his or her Bible (or whatever their religion happens to be). Prayer became a disturbing issue for many when more and more adults chose to live w/ someone out of marriage…along w/ the children and people no longer wanted to have any rules imposed on their lives. Prayer out of schools is a SYMPTOM of where we have moved in this country…not the cause of a change in moral values. One more thing b/c I see multiple posts about how thankful people are that Common Core is eliminated. I do not understand Common Core, but true educators DO. Children are taught how to THINK. Why is learning to think so terrifying for people? I love my home state, but so very thankful that we escaped while our children were young.

    2. Common core is a unified set of curriculum standards. It has nothing to do with high-stakes testing, which was a product of the W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act.

    3. I am overloaded with tutoring clients because of common core.
      I also refuse to accept a full time teaching position until it is retracted. I am doing more by correcting what is wrong. I simply do not have the stomach to go along with what would be asked of me.
      All of my students’ grades have improved and they truly understand the subject matter better.

      1. Jen…if the students now understand and are making better grades, perhaps the teachers need training. Your comments actually support that it can be taught and children learn. So, be sure the teachers know what they need to accomplish. Don’t throw out the baby w/ the bathwater.

  8. It seems the problems listed are not new. Both parties are guilty. So let’s all pull together for change. If you understand the need and have solutions you should run for office! We haven’t had much to chose from and I encourage you to throw your hat in the ring! We need people like you in office.

  9. What’s done this session is done. We need to look toward November (and the primary) to begin to end the travesty we just witnessed. There are some new, dedicated, young people running for office this year, who need to have a chance to change what the politicians bought by out of state companies have done. It is solely up to the voters to get these characters out, and get some new, innovative legislators in.

  10. We agree and disagree on many subject in this post. The truth be told, WV is a failed state because the passion in the souls of Wvians is burnt to a crisp. I choice to move here from Akron, Oh (another great example of a failed city) during my high school / college years I watched as all the Rubber Jobs left thanks to NAFTA and better Tech. I now live in Southern WV. In the comment section I see folks talking about growth, growth doesn’t have to be new and shiny. New can be recycles the old, transforming something broken into something that works better. In the 11 years i’ve live hear I finally have gotten so sick of hearing this and that about coal. There is more to offer in WV then just coal. First though you have to understand that. There is room for a large back to land movement, Permiculture farming, tourism, Ecotravel, Smart Energy growth (Like Solar, Wind, Hydro) Being that WV in in the crossroads there is many medium size non manufacturing business that could relocate here. — The key to all of this is strong education, not this brand of common core everyone gets a yellow ribbon, not this denying certain truth about pollution and science. Fed brand education just always follows to the lowest denominator. I’m a product of “no child left behind”. I hate the fact that as an adult I have to reeducate myself in grammar, history, science. I digress, With a strong education, the drug addicts, the family drama, the corporate welfare using social welfare all of these will be reduced. Simply by educating the children of today, and tomorrow. In a single generation we can turn a completely failed state, the model other areas could follow. How do we do this? By doing what you can today to educate all the children that touch your life.

  11. Justin, I agree with what you say, having taught at an open-admissions West Virginia college for nearly thirty years. During that time, I have been disgusted by the succession of legislators of both parties who have repeatedly put nearly all the state’s economic eggs in the fossil fuel basket, despite the growing evidence that fossil fuel use will and must decline. It was easier for current senator Manchin to “take aim” at regulations protecting health and habitat than to admit that generations of state leaders have made horrific mistakes.

    The situation now is that businesses from outside are becoming hesitant to invest in a state known primarily for poor air quality, water pollution, and drug addiction. For a while, it seemed that West Virginia might be developing a heritage and ecotourism industry, but with the former Mountain State some forty percent flatter than it once was (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/opinion/how-the-coal-industry-flattened-the-mountains-of-appalachia.html), outsiders have less and less reason to come here.

    (And while I hate to be picky about an otherwise excellent and thoughtful post, please proofread. The grammatical and mechanical errors take away from your argument. Yes, I have been an English teacher for far too long.)

    1. I just checked my grammar and punctuation… It was bad lol. I tried to fix as much as I could, when I write, I think faster than i type! Thank for reading and make sure to keep up with my postings!

  12. I would like to know whose palms got greased to take the tax increase on tobacco off the table? That was one piece of legislation that could have done some good in this State! It could have stopped some people from using tobacco and kids from starting to use it. And raise a lot of revenue!

  13. I am a teacher and I miss my home state. My heart is in West Virginia. My body and mind are staying in MISSISSIPPI! Yes. I said Mississippi. Talk amongst yourselves.

  14. I’m just glad I’m finally getting out of WV. Once you get out and see what other places have to offer, you just pity WV as a whole. It’s depressing once you get outside the state and see how other state’s/cities’ economies are. The fact that moving out the state automatically granted me a 33-40% pay increase is sad. The only thing WV has to offer is poverty.

  15. Don’t you find it slightly ridiculous that we’re talking about education inadequacy and everyone is spending time correcting grammar. We’re not educated properly and the value of education is not instilled into us at an early age. It’s “if we go to college” not “when we go to college” and it’s sad and horrible because we are suffering because of it, like the writer is trying to articulate.
    But alas, a comment is just a comment. I also vow to vote and try to make a difference with my choices.
    And the drug testing thing, what the crap ever. We will never come up out of this addiction problem until we stop treating people with addiction problems like sub-par human beings. They are our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and children and they need help, not another way to punish them and their children. If we spent half the money they waste on proper in patient rehabilitation and prevention education we would make leaps and bounds in that area.

  16. In North Carolina, Tobacco was King. Then Tobacco went down and NC had to work together to come up with “something ” to produce jobs and Taxes. And ” Duke” was invented. Any one really Sick in WV tries to find a way to get to Duke in NC for treatment. WV has to come together and find ” what” will work for our state and replace Coal. Coal will Never be King again.

    1. This. The tragedy of WV (and I speak as an outsider, but one who has worked here for nearly thirty years, nearly all of my adult life) has been the refusal of its leaders to imagine a life beyond coal and chemicals.

    2. Duke Hospital began in 1930. It has been around a few years. Granted, it was not the world renown hospital we now know, but it did not replace the tobacco industry. I think if we look at the Research Triangle Park area, we might have a little better perspective of someone having vision and determining to make a state better and allow for growth. Tobacco AND textiles were huge in NC. The textile industry has gone elsewhere as well (south of the border and Asia). People finally began to believe what science demonstrated about tobacco use. Denial is not the answer to finding alternatives. Denial and placing blame on the present admin. for the woes of WV is just another mechanism people use to somehow lie to themselves. I’m not sure how this makes them feel better about the demise of what has been happening since the 70s. No…I suspect it was in the 60s. We have something similar going on here in NC now. Duke Power is clearly contaminating our waters, but nothing is being done about it. The present governor is a part of it and yet people think this is going to be fixed by denying the problems. Why do we do this to ourselves?!? We vote for the very candidates/party who don’t care about the people. We vote against ourselves. Yeah…getting rid of Common Core is the fix. What’s wrong w/ people who choose (yes CHOOSE) to live in a fantasy world? If you find this offensive, you are a part of the problem b/c you too refuse to look at reality and actually become willing to find ways to make changes.

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