Coalition Opposes Amendments 2 And 4
A coalition of educators, county representatives, nurses and others assembled at West Virginia’s Capitol Tuesday urging voters to say no to two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November.
Joe White, executive director of W. Va. School Service Personnel Association, joined representatives from WVEA, AFT-WV, deputy sheriffs and county commissioners in a show of solidarity against proposed constitutional amendments 2 and 4.
“The threat is great, we do not need to expand the power of the legislature,” White said. “We need to have some local control, and say, within each county.”
Amendment 2 would give the legislature power to regulate property taxes used to fund schools and libraries. White said an estimated $515 million dollar tax cut would mostly benefit out of state businesses while counties, public schools and libraries, parks, senior services and others stand to lose out.
Amendment 4 would allow the legislature to overturn any proposed rules on education on matters that include what is taught in West Virginia classrooms.
White said the same legislators who are seeking to change the status quo on education introduced 173 bills on education reform in 2021 alone and urged voters to get out to vote in November.
“I encourage y’all to stop this in its tracks and to vote no on amendments 2 and 4. It is not good for the people, it’s not good for the students and it is not good for the state of West Virginia,” White said.
President of the West Virginia Education Association Dale Lee, and Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-WV joined White and others present in calling Proposal 4 an attack on the public education system.
Lee said the “disrespect” on the part of the legislature toward the state’s education system partly stems from resentment over 2018-2019 work actions when teachers and school service employees went on strike over low pay and high healthcare costs.
“I think a part of it is those who have a different belief and education philosophy that they are more concerned with, private school or homeschool, than they are public education,” Lee said.
He said bills aimed at improving those options will take money away from public education and dictate to teachers what they can teach, as well as how and when they can teach, including critical race theory.
Former president of the West Virginia NAACP Sen. Owens Brown, D-Ohio, a black man, earlier this year accused Republicans of using Senate Bill 498 as a "weapon or tool in their campaigns” stoking unnecessary fear among citizens.
Lee called critical race theory a political buzzword for what he said is actually a law school class that is only taught in a few states.
“Nowhere in our West Virginia public schools do we teach it. We teach truths; we have to allow our students to become critical thinkers,” Lee said.
He cited the example of Catherine Johnson, saying it was 50 years before anyone knew who the great American mathematician and hero was.
“Those are the truths that need to come out. It’s not about a race being superior, the buzzword they want you to believe,” Lee said. It’s about truths - letting our history be taught in a manner by our experts that have kids think about what happened.”