I have been employed as an educator for 18 years, and in that time I have done the following:
- Earned a master’s degree plus 45 education credits, a National Board Certification and endorsements in five subjects.
- Completed training as a certified Apple teacher, a Teacher Consultant for National Writing Project, Covey Leadership training, Langford training, technology integration specialist training, mentor training, and more.
- Served as a member of faculty senates, leadership teams, local school improvement councils, webmaster,yearbook adviser, and other responsibilities outside of the school day.
- Fed and clothed kids out of my own pocket.
- Provided my own supplies and resources to the tune of roughly $3,000 over 18 years.
- Put out a fire in a classroom trash can.
- Disarmed a 5-year-old who had a switchblade to another student’s throat.
- Physically broken up over 30 fist fights.
- Called Child Protective Services over a dozen times.
- Held a child and let them cry when their father died.
- Chaperoned more dances and attended more sporting events and concerts than I can count.
- Held classrooms together when they were reeling from the death of a classmate.
- Visited students in the hospital.
- Held back the tears while witnessing a circle of six students comforting their classmate who had just lost their mother to a drug overdose because they had been through it, too.
- Altered my teaching to accommodate a half-dozen changes in standards and testing.
- Coordinated countless fundraisers to secure resources for the classroom.
- Coordinated Title I family night activities.
- Coordinated countywide trainings.
- Worked a second job.
- Kept abreast of education legislation and contacted my legislators often.
- Written three editorials that have been published in the last two years.
- Stood on a picket line twice in the last two years.
- Spoken at education functions, board meetings and other events about education topics.
Let’s see, what else. ... Oh, yeah! I actually taught my students.
It should be clear that I have committed my life to public education and to honing and improving my craft. I have the education and experience to be considered an expert in my field, as do many of my colleagues.
And yet, when it comes to drafting education legislation, the experts are not consulted. On top of that, we have written letters, made phone calls, attended round table discussions and stood on a picket line, and the message is still not getting through to our legislators.
West Virginia is currently losing some of our best and brightest teachers because of low salaries and stripped benefits. Teachers in charter schools would get far less compensation than public school teachers and would not be required to be certified. Is this really going to improve education in our state?
The public is being told that charter schools would not have the same regulations. If the legislators think the regulations in public schools are a problem, why not change the regulations rather than remove funding from public schools for a select few students that would attend charter schools?
If you follow the money, it’s not hard to see who is benefiting from this proposal, and it’s not the students and teachers in West Virginia. Listen to the experts who have committed their lives to the students of West Virginia — the teachers.