A little rain didn't slow WV teachers and school workers down.
You never know when positive recognition can come from unexpected sources. A case in point is the recent release by Forbes of a list of "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders." In it, West Virginia teachers came in at number 31. Here's what Forbes had to say about them:
Some others who made the list were Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, and the #MeToo movement.
For years, it has been universally acknowledged that American public school teachers are woefully underpaid—and considered a given that it has to be that way. Late last year, thousands of West Virginia teachers rose up and said, “Enough,” mobilizing on Facebook and defying their union to strike for fairer pay and higher standards. (They did it thoughtfully; while not teaching, they made sure students who qualified for free at-school meals got fed.) After nine days, West Virginia’s legislature granted them their first raise in four years. The teachers touched off a movement now playing out nationwide, inspiring educators in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona to follow their lead.
(I would have bumped our people up a bit on the list, but at least they made it.)
It was a victory with legs. Aside from pay increases for teachers, school workers and all state employees and improvements in the insurance system, the strike inspired militant actions and concrete victories in other states.
Kentucky teachers won enhanced funding for education that included a $480 million tax increase, with legislators overriding a veto by a governor with a knack for putting his foot in his mouth. Oklahoma teachers didn't get everything they hoped for but won a $6,000 pay raise, increased revenue and a bit more in education funding. Arizona teachers voted last night to walk out. I wish them all the best.
On a personal level, the strike had a musical impact on me. For years, I never cared much for the song Country Roads, which geographically seemed to be more about Virginia. Now that it's become a labor anthem thanks to the teachers, I've had to rehabilitate it.
As for Twisted Sister, I've always been a fan...