Charleston, WV – Hundreds of West Virginia public school teachers and public school supporters gathered at the state Capitol today, June 1, 2019, while the Senate held a special legislative session regarding the Student Success Act.
The Senate’s President, Mitch Carmichael, unveiled the Student Success Act last Friday. It has many similarities of a previous bill that was shot down by the House of Delegates this past February, which is commonly referred to as the Omnibus Bill.
In February, when Senator Carmichael attempted to pass the Omnibus Bill, teachers statewide gathered to rally against it. Not only did they rally as a way to oppose the Omnibus Bill, but they soon began to rally in opposition of Mitch Carmichael; not too long after, they developed distrust in the West Virginian state government.
This morning, as I walked into the State Capitol, a sea of red appeared; it was hundreds of teachers and public school supporters who were trying to get the point across to Senator Carmichael: they will not tolerate the way he chooses to formulate such legislation.
Outside the Capitol building was Dale Lee, who happens to be the President of the West Virginia Education Association. I asked Mr. Lee, “What’s your favorite element of the Omnibus Bill?” Hesitant to respond, he said, “The bill is so bad to where I don’t know if I can say I have a favorite element,” later adding, “There are some things that are good, but they all need to run on their own merit.”
After posing that question to him, I then went on to ask, “Would you rather have a teacher pay raise or charter schools in West Virginia?” He responded, “Charter schools are devastating. The reason they continue to push this is only because of Betsy DeVos and outside interest. You’re either going to listen to West Virginians or outside interest.”
After speaking to Dale Lee, I then went on to question a high school teacher at Raleigh County High School, John Brown. “I believe we should keep public education. We should not dilute the funding; we need to make sure that taxpayer dollars go to every student in this state.”
While the special legislative session was in session, many went to watch it, while many more stayed downstairs below the gallery. Those who stayed downstairs made sure the Senate, especially Senate President Mitch Carmichael, heard them loud and clear: they oppose having any charter school in the state of West Virginia, and they won’t stop challenging it until a conclusion comes about.
The Senate couldn’t confer with one another; therefore, they will hold session again tomorrow and Monday morning, ultimately to come to a final decision.