Missing Opportunity on Teachers

Editor, News-Register:

Most of us can remember our favorite teacher. For some of us, perhaps we had more than one favorite teacher. What a blessing it is to look back into childhood and fondly remember a teacher who was inspiring.

Every teacher wants to provide a high-quality education for the students they serve. All school employees are interested in seeing children and teenagers become successful. The future of our great state looks brighter when teachers do a good job.

This state is filled with good teachers. Yet, some of them wonder if they can continue working in West Virginia. Salaries are low and benefits seem to erode every year. The current legislative session, although still “new,” has brought huge unrest among educators. There is a missed opportunity here. Legislators and policy-makers have the opportunity to encourage public education employees, but this session does not appear to be providing encouragement at all.

Teachers are educated voters. Teachers follow the issues. Teachers recognize when opportunities are missed.

Let’s regroup. Let’s find a way to address important issues with clear dialogue and policy that is sensible. Let’s keep our teachers in the classroom, where they can continue to impact students and create a bright future. Teachers know that any missed opportunity in the learning environment is nearly impossible to recover. Lawmakers must learn that lesson.

Gregory Merritt

Secretary, American Federation of Teachers/West Virginia

President, AFT-Wood County