A message from AFT-WV President Fred Albert

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Dear Member,

Spring is a very busy time for educators, and I know everyone is also feeling anxious about the upcoming special legislative session.  I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you what we know, what it is still uncertain and some of the strategic activities and actions that will be taking place in the coming weeks.

What we know:
Overwhelmingly, the results of the public education forums called for wraparound services to address the physical, mental and emotional needs of students. The public support for charter schools and ESAs was so minuscule that several legislators who had once been strongly aligned with the “education choice” notion have reversed their stance, both on social media and other public outlets.

We also know that the legislative leadership appears to be tone deaf to the results of these public forums and continues to call for charter schools and ESA legislation as part of the “education betterment” session. It’s clear their out-of-state corporate puppeteers are still pulling the strings in hopes of profiting at the expense of West Virginia’s public schools.

Still unknown:
The exact timeline for the special session is still uncertain. While May 20th has been mentioned, it is not a definite date. Additionally, several committees who have work to complete prior to the session will not finish meeting until May 17th. This leads some people to question whether the legislative leaders will have the time to prepare for a May 20th start to the session. As soon as a date is set, AFT-WV will alert our members ASAP.

What’s next:
In the meantime, AFT-WV has been planning and preparing for the special session in a number of ways. We are continuing to work with the coalition of stakeholders that demonstrated strong solidarity in past sessions. Meetings with WVEA, WVSSPA, and the administrator’s organizations are ongoing to revisit our united strategy and action plan moving forward.

The out-of-state corporate profiteers continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to sway the public. Targeted mailers, digital ads and other “education choice” propaganda from the Cardinal Institute, Americans For Prosperity and other ALEC-driven entities have already hit mailboxes and the internet.  

AFT-WV will be launching digital and radio ads to continue to engage the public on our issues, particularly in specific, targeted legislative districts. While we lack the unlimited advertising dollars that these ALEC-funded groups have, we have a weapon which can be more powerful than any ad. We have the power of the people who live, work and vote in our great state and we have the conviction in the noble and just cause for which we fight—public education and the children we serve!

Despite no confirmed start date for the session at this time, there are ways we can and must channel our energy now in preparation for the session.

  • Call Governor Jim Justice at 558-2000 and tell him charter schools and ESAs aren’t the solutions to raising student achievement. The results of the public education forums overwhelmingly called for wraparound services to address the physical, mental and emotional needs of students. Research proves that these services truly improve academic achievement and provide the social-emotional safety net our kids need to feel safe and be successful.
  • AFT-WV is coordinating an op-ed campaign featuring member stories and their ideas on what our students need. Tell the public or legislators what it’s like to walk a day in your shoes. These op-eds will be part of a media blitz strategically timed around the special session. Click here to learn more or submit an op-ed.
  • Continue to educate those outside of our profession about the history of failures of charter schools and ESAs nationwide. Click here for a great piece by Diane Ravitch, which cites the numerous problems with Ohio’s charter schools. Feel free to share with anyone interested in learning more about the topic.                      

On Deck:
After a date certain is announced for the special session, watch for other activities that will be announced:

  • Video Campaign
  • Telephone Town Hall
  • Statewide Day of Action

 

Also, it’s critical that AFT-WV can communicate with you quickly. If you did not get the text message with a poll during the last work stoppage, we do not have an updated cell phone number from you. Please use this link to update your information to receive these types of messages from AFT-WV in the future.

Stay vigilant, engaged and informed!

In unity,

Fred Albert
President, AFT-WV