MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If the rapid response to Gov. Jim Justice’s town hall was bad, teachers don’t seem to feel much better about it one day later.
“You could just feel the energy in the room,” said Emily Tanzy, an English teacher at Suncrest Middle School. “People are so frustrated. They are at their wits end. They have been trying to follow the process, getting their Legislators on board.”
The Governor spent time at town halls in Wheeling, Martinsburg, and Morgantown Monday, attempting to open a dialogue with disgruntled public workers and teachers.
“And he told us that he doesn’t control the Legislature, and that there’s no chance that we’re going to get some of our bills moved that we need to move on,” Tanzy said.
Students, former students, and parents joined Tanzy at informational pickets on the fourth day of the statewide work stoppage.
Tanzy said that was encouraging after spending two hours of being told by the Governor to ‘listen to him.’
“I was very frustrated, because he kept telling us to listen to him, but I felt like he wasn’t listening to us,” she said.
Echoing comments from immediately after the Monday afternoon town hall, Tanzy criticized the Governor for failing to enter the town hall with resolutions.
“That was really disheartening — hearing someone who is supposed to be our leader showing zero leadership.”
As leaders from West Virginia’s top education groups meet with Gov. Justice today, Tanzy said the resolve among educators has tightened.
“It just kind of lit a fire under us,” she said. “Well, he’s not taking us seriously. We need to show him how serious we are.”
“We have talked about a rolling work stoppage,” Tanzy said. “I’m not sure if most teachers are in support of that. It is a possibility, but at this point it’s really hard to say where we’re moving forward.”
Students have now been out of school for four consecutive days dating back to Thursday. McDonald said it was worth it to support the teachers who motivated him to become more dedicated to his academics.
“One of my middle school teachers really helped me get my head in the game, because I really wasn’t focusing on my studies.
“I was a smart kid,” McDonald added. “But I didn’t focus on it and I just didn’t care. But she really taught me to care.”