MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It was rainy, but social studies teacher Brooke Jackson said she was “warm on the inside” during Friday’s picket and walk-in outside Suncrest Middle School.
“I’m feeling some sunshine on the inside,” she said. “I’m so excited that so many teachers are out here. It’s good spirits.”
Teachers staged the coordinated walk-in, a symbolic protest, Friday morning as teachers from seven counties walked out of schools and launched the beginning of two days of protest in the Capitol.
“I love my job,” Jackson said. “I love everything that I do in the classroom, but it is a little frustrating when you’re not valued — when you feel like what you’re doing in the classroom isn’t valued.”
Jackson said she was prepared, if necessary, to join in statewide action as teachers demonstrate for better pay, a restoration of more cost efficient benefits, and against a perceived anti-public education agenda in Charleston.
“It’s been very empowering to see all of my other teachers come out in support and try to convince our legislators to do some things for us,” she said.
West Virginia last experienced a statewide teacher strike in 1990 — coincidentally the last time there was a full, statewide strike in any state in the U.S.
“I think it signals that we’re united — this younger generation of teachers,” she said. “And we’re not going to put up with not having our profession valued.”
Similar walk-ins were held across the county, though at staggered times due to the different start times of each school.
Thousands are expected to rally in Charleston Saturday.