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.