Breaking The Stigma Surrounding West Virginia K-12 Education

Growing up as a student who experienced all of their education in West Virginia, I had not necessarily realized that there was a stigma (or stereotype) toward Appalachia education and toward those who are educated in Appalachia. The idea was foreign to me until I listened to a professor say to my class that students educated in this state typically come to college lacking any ability to take tests, notes or even effectively write because the teachers have failed them. I kid you not, he told me that this applied to virtually all of us. I, being a product of the West Virginia school system my entire life, could not have disagreed anymore. Furthermore, I felt the statement disregarded the passion that the educators in this state have for education.

Harrison County teachers during the 2018 strike:

Kolby Alonso

 

I believe those who have had no experience or encounters with K-12 education resort to statistics to form their opinion on the education system. While the state is ranked 42nd in primary and secondary education in the U.S., it is understandable for someone to form a negative opinion of the state’s education system, but it is widely unfair to say that teachers have failed students. Again and again, the educators in this state have put students and future generations before themselves, particularly in recent years. 

It is no secret that West Virginia educators are vocal about the things that they believe in and they displayed this during the teacher strikes during 2018 and 2019; one would have thought after the first strike, the state legislature would have realized that West Virginia teachers are not ones to let things go by quietly. Having been a senior during the first strike, I remember several “hush hush” conversations between teachers leading up to the actual strike, but no one was sure if it was going to actually happen. To clarify, halting the education process was not something that our teachers wanted to do, but they knew that it was something that they had to do.

 

For those who are unaware of why teachers went on strike, to briefly state, they were fighting for a 5% pay raise to supplement the increase in health care costs that had occurred in preceding years. Not only were they fighting for themselves, but for the educators that will eventually follow in their footsteps. More than 20,000 teachers and public school employees were involved in this strike and their efforts were inspirational to school systems in other states as well. Soon after our teachers went on strike, teachers in Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona began their fight as well. 

#55Strong started a movement and made a statement that we must respect our educators. In my opinion, this should be a concept that is easy to understand because they are the ones who are molding today’s youth. I am nothing but thankful and proud to have been educated by the most passionate and hardworking men and women this state has to offer because they made sure that I was not only prepared for college, but also for life after high school in general. 

 

 

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Edited by Madison Greer