Hundreds rally in Princeton Tuesday on fourth day of walkout

PRINCETON, W.Va. — Hundreds of teachers, school service personnel, parents and teachers rallied near the intersection of Courthouse Road, S. Walker Street and Stafford Drive Tuesday.

Area businesses donated food, soft drinks and water. Mercer County Education Association President Allen Kade said it’s been encouraging to get local support. He hoped the high turnout will make an impact on the community and state government.

“The new target is just really for the legislature and Gov. Justice to invite us to sit down at the table. We want a voice in our future. We feel like we can help bring a perspective to the talks they would not have if they didn’t have us there. Our presence at that table is very important”

Mercer County teacher Molly Robinson was with a group wearing red bandannas round their necks. She said she was disappointed in a comment made by Gov. Justice at a town hall in Wheeling Monday using the term “town redneck”. Although Gov. Justice said shortly after the comment was not directed toward anybody, she took it personally.

“We’re rednecks, and we’re proud to be rednecks if that’s what he wants us to be. But you can’t bring anybody in to teach these kids, you have to be highly qualified and now their pushing a bill to let anybody come in and teach.”

Robinson was referring to HB 4407, which takes away the “requirement to have an academic major or occupational area the same as or similar to subject matter being hired to teach.”

35-year teacher Preston Wolkoff also took part in the 1990 strike. He carried a large American flag and said he’s doing his part to make a difference.

“It’s time to speak up and speak out and speak loud and clear, we’re fed up. Everybody out here would prefer to be back in the classroom teaching the children. The ball’s in the court in Charleston. We’re standing firm, we’re standing strong.”

Wolkoff added he feels the walkout is very similar to the 1990 strike, but stronger.

“The service personnel is with us. You’ve seen firefighters out here today, you’ve seen employees. We’re 55 strong.”

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