Educators in Monongalia and Marion more certain in opposition to Senate bill

MORGANTOWN — The indefinite tabling of the omnibus education bill, S.B. 451, marks a potentially swift conclusion to the second consecutive teacher strike in as many years in West Virginia.

“It’s ridiculous to think that we need 15 amendments, people who aren’t in education making the decisions, outside businesses and factors coming in and writing law and policy for us,” said Kristine Alvarez, an english teacher at Morgantown High School. “West Virginia is better than that, and Mitch Carmichael needs to recognize that.”

This morning Alvarez made it clear: “The bill needs to die.”

Sarahellen Beamer, a choir and music teacher at Suncrest Middle School, summed up the decision to strike in simple terms.

Alvarez and Beamer both rallied Tuesday in separate parts of Morgantown, as teachers returned to their familiar picketing locations during last year’s historic work stoppage.

“The House passed a pretty good version of the bill that we supported for the most part, but the Senate decided to reverse some of the decisions that the House had made,” Beamer said. “They’re processing it very quickly in an attempts to get it passed with little time for action on our end.”

Beamer wasn’t alone in feeling that she could live with the House’s version of the hotly contested omnibus edcuation bill. Greg Devito, the choir director at Fairmont Senior, said he could accept the work done in the House of Delegates.

“Is this what we want to have for dinner? No,” he said. “But at least I’m eating, and we move on.”

He recognized he couldn’t speak for everyone. Alvarez called the House version “better” but added that it “wasn’t there yet.”

“I feel proud of my colleagues,” Alvarez said. “I feel proud of West Virginia. I feel proud of the teachers and service personnel who are standing up and saying, ‘You know what Mitch, we’re tired of this. If you want us to teach, we’ll hold class right here. Come on down.”

It is not yet known if teachers and service personnel will return to school Wednesday.