AFT-WV Response to Governor's State of the State

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AFT-WV President Responds to State of the State Address

Charleston - AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert responded to Governor Jim Justice’s State of the State address:

While I am glad the Governor proposed a 5% pay increase for all state employees and putting $100 million into PEIA, I’m not convinced either of those proposals will truly solve the school staffing crisis our school systems are currently experiencing.

At a time, when we have unprecedented educator shortages in our state and an equally massive budget surplus, it’s disappointing that Governor Justice didn’t mention the teacher shortage and propose more funding and initiatives to sufficiently attract and retain certified teachers and other critical school staff. The 5% increases given over the last few years have not even put a dent in the hemorrhaging of teachers from West Virginia. With the current budget surplus, it’s a lost opportunity to not utilize some of those funds to ensure every child has certified teachers in their classrooms and enough bus drivers to sufficiently transport our students.

The Governor’s proposal to require all curricula be posted online seems like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Parents and guardians already have the right and ability to see any class materials used in their student’s classrooms. Just last year, the Governor signed Committee Substitute for SB 704, which provides that the parent, grandparent, or guardian of students can request to view instructional materials, supplemental materials, and any materials adopted by the county board of education. At a time when the teacher shortage has led to teachers giving up their planning period constantly to cover classes without a teacher, this seems like a cumbersome and redundant process that only adds to a teacher’s administrative burden. I think we can all agree that our teachers’ time is best spent instructing and engaging students.

I sincerely hope that the legislature will address the teacher shortage in an impactful way and the myriad of problems that result from it, like the loss of instructional planning time.

I’m proud to fight for education employees and our public schools every day because I believe they are truly life-changing and special for thousands of West Virginia children, not just a “special interest group” as some may call them.