Teachers plan defense against education bill

MARION COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - Representatives from schools across Marion County met at East Fairmont High to voice their questions and concerns as Senate Bill 451 moves forward in the House.

The meeting was lead by education union leaders such as Stacey Strawderman, the president of the Marion County chapter of American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

They are giving ballots to reps from all schools with the goal of getting a consensus on their next moves.

Several teachers and education leaders spoke about the importance of educating the public on what this bill means and the impact it will have.

Another main concern continues to be the implementation of charter schools and state funding for private schooling.

"I'm tired of hearing about school choice, we have choices," Strawderman, who also teaches, said. "If you want to send your child to a private school you have that choice, you should pay for it my tax dollars shouldn't go for your child to go to a private school,"

And while teachers can recognize the benefits within charter schools they say they want to bring that into the public education system that already exists.

"Things that people want to adopt in charter schools or what people see the good in charter schools we want to bring that into our own public education," Sara Cornwell, a teacher at West Fairmont middle school, said "We can do that without enacting senate bill 451,"

And while teachers say they are willing to strike again if necessary they worry that this will set a pattern for the future.

"Having to start at year 5, striking, that's concerning. If I teach for 30 years am I gonna have to do this every year, every five years?" Cornwell said "That's a long time,"

In the following weeks teacher unions plan to have more meetings as the bill continues to undergo changes moving through the house.

Education leaders remain hopeful that house representatives will take a close look at the bill before moving forward.

"We have some really good members in the house, that are former principles former teachers, on both sides of the aisle, that are against the bill," Stawderman said "So I think that'll make a huge difference,"