Kanawha County teachers participate in statewide walk-in

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Less than a year after teachers in West Virginia went on strike, they are back out in force again.

This time, teachers walked into school as group to send a message to lawmakers on the first day of the session.

Teachers stood outside their schools for about 30 minutes Wednesday morning and then walked into school as a group.

The walk-in was called the "State of the School's Address."

Teachers are hoping this sends a strong message to Governor Jim Justice and lawmakers that they are closely watching the moves they make to improve public education.

Schools across West Virginia participated.

This walk-in happening less than a year after teachers in West Virginia went on a statewide strike.

Schools in all 55 counties were out of school for more than a week as teachers went to the state capitol to protest.

That strike sparked a movement among teachers across our country. Teachers in Arizona and Oklahoma followed suit.

"It made us feel good that we were standing up for our students," said Dinah Adkins, the Co-President of the Kanawha County Education Association.

The strike ended when Governor Justice proposed a 5-percent pay increase for state workers and dedicated $100 million in state surplus to fund PEIA, the state's health insurance fund.

Teachers say they have no organized plans to strike right now. Instead, they may plan more walk-ins in the future and will have days where they will go to the capitol to lobby during the 60-day session.

Teachers say they appreciate the moves that have been made so far, but would still like to see more done in the future including more competitive pay, school renovations and work to fill open positions. They also say they want to see a permanent funding stream dedicated to PEIA.

Lawmakers assure they will be focusing heavily on education during the session and working to make sure teachers earn better pay.

"We recognize that our teachers have been underpaid and we provided the largest pay raise in state history last year and we are committed to doing so again," said Senate President Mitch Carmichael.

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