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WVEA members prepare for walk-in protest Monday before session begins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a special session on education approaching in the West Virginia Legislature, affiliates of the West Virginia Education Association in Kanawha County are wanting to make sure they are heard.

Kanawha County Education Association (KCEA) Co-President Dinah Adkins and other members gathered on Thursday at their Charleston office to discuss ideas and make signs for a scheduled walk-in Monday morning before school.

She said other affiliates of the WVEA are preparing for a walk-in too.

“We hope to demonstrate to the legislators, to the governor and to the communities that we are still standing up and fighting strong for public education,” Adkins said.

“We must stand strong against charter schools, education savings accounts (ESAs) and any other entity that would drain funds from our students that are already having difficulty getting all the materials and supplies, and even personnel in the schools that we need.”

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) said this week that a special session will begin on Monday but will not deal with education.

The session on education is expected to happen sometime after Memorial Day.

On Wednesday, education groups called on Gov. Jim Justice to cancel the special session on education altogether, citing what a special session would cost per day and wanting education reform to pick back up in the 2020 regular legislative session.

Adkins wants the session on education, whenever it is, to be up front and open.

“It needs to be a determined time where each of these issues can be sponsored in a bill and stand on their own merit to be voted up or down by the bodies,” she said.

“The public and educators need to have an opportunity to speak and be heard as opposed to setting our schedules around outside interests that are coming to West Virginia to determine what we need in public education.”

Between the ending of the 2019 regular legislative session and now, education forums have been held by the education groups and the state Department of Education, and results have been gathered.

An overwhelming majority of participants in the forums were against charter schools and ESAs, according to the results.

On Thursday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline,’ Carmichael touted a plan called the “Student Success Act” that he said would be proposed when the education session started.

This legislation has multiple provisions and is similar to Senate Bill 451, which had charter schools and ESAs in it.

Teachers and school service personnel held a two-day work stoppage in the Winter over the omnibus bill.

“It’s my opinion that Senator Carmichael is going to try and do it any way that he can get it through the legislature,” Adkins said. “We are hoping that the public, the community, and the educators will see through that, and the governor will stand strong for what is right for public education.”

On Monday, Democrats in the state Senate came out with a plan for a special session on education and have said those bills will be proposed as soon as it starts.

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