It’s been a
22-year term for Hale who came on board just after the tumultuous statewide
teachers’ strike of 1990.
negotiated one-on-one with governors Caperton, Underwood, Wise, Manchin and
came to the decision reluctantly, she says it’s time to turn the reigns over to
someone younger. She’s leaving with mixed emotions.
I’m most proud of is that we’ve brought 16,000 people into the labor movement,”
said Hale. “I think that’s important because the union stands for working class
of problems our kids are coming to school with today can’t be handled in the
time that they’re in the classroom. So we believe that it is part of the
union’s responsibility, that it is union work to see that our children receive
the kind of help and assistance they need.”
just teaching the curriculum anymore,” said Hale. “So I think that’s a
different focus that we’ve had over these years and I’m very proud of that.”
pleased with successes during her administration including the passage of safe
schools legislation and inclusion legislation for special needs students.
points to current AFT projects like funding an after school program in Charleston’s west side and hiring a community
liaison in that area who works with parents and school-aged children.
Reconnecting McDowell project is also something that excites Hale. The 5-year effort
was launched by the AFT in 2011 to address McDowell County’s failing school system and
and private help, the entire county is now wired for the internet, literacy
programs have been expanded, a handful of new homes are under construction, and
schools are receiving much-needed books and technology.
has been amazing. We have been working with partners that we have never really
worked with before,” said Hale. “Companies like Alpha Natural Resources, Verizon,
Frontier, and Cisco are willing to stay the course and I think we’re going to
have great progress there.”
there’s much to look back upon and be gratified by, Hale says she’ll leave with
great disappointments too.
the 1990 statewide strike, West Virginia teachers went from almost last in
pay in the country to a middle-range ranking. Today they’re back close to the
quality teachers are the foundation of education reform, and the state has lost
its ability to recruit.
have thousands of students in West Virginia who are sitting in a classroom without
a certified, in-field teacher. And I don’t see any answer to it, because there
is nothing that will attract those people to West Virginia,” said Hale.
ranking in salary and the chipping away year after year of our health care
benefits, in addition to the teachers hired after January 2010 who will not
have a health care subsidy when they retire, you can’t compete like that for
teachers in the eastern panhandle and northern panhandle can drive 20 minutes over
the border and make $20,000 more and have a better health care and a better
retirement,” she said. “So that’s very, very disappointing to me.”
sentiment is another disappointment. Hale believes it’s as bad as it’s ever
been. She acknowledges that many believe teachers unions have impeded education
political football,” she said. “Soundbites are nice but I want to see the
research behind these silver bullets to education reform.”
talk about merit pay. We have merit pay if a teacher gets National Board
Certified. To me that’s merit pay that is objective,” said Hale.
you tell me you want the Principal to decide who in the school should have
additional pay and who should not, then I begin to back up because I base my
decisions on what the research says,” she said.
critical element of a child’s education during school hours is a quality
teacher in the classroom,” said Hale. “All of the research tells us that that
is true. And yet the further you get away from the classroom, the more money
you make in education.”
who make the least are the teachers who we deem to be the most important. So
we’re really not putting our money where our mouth is.”
stay on as president of AFT West Virginia through this winter’s legislative