The highly publicized West Virginia teachers strike ended with the teachers receiving the 5% pay increase they were seeking. However, a resolution wasn’t easily reached, as was evident through the continuous back and forth that happened between the state government and the teachers. But it does seem like the state’s leaders were listening to what the teachers and their supporters were saying.
On Feb. 26, the week before the strike ended, Gov. Jim Justice appeared at a Wheeling, West Virginia, town hall to discuss the teachers strike with his constituents. Addressing the concerns of parents, students, and concerned citizens, the Justice spoke to the allocation of funds away from struggling public school teachers.
In the public and unscripted setting, the governor was met with spirited questions from citizens demanding accountability for putting many interests before education. But it was the observation of 12-year-old Gideon Titus-Glover that seems to have caused the governor to reconsider his position.
Justice led with his logic that tourism investments benefit the state, arbitrarily citing a figure that turning $1 into $8 was a good investment. Titus-Glover wasn’t satisfied, and his persistence and logic might have been the tipping point the situation needed. The young man responded to the governor, “Wouldn’t it be an investment to invest in smart teachers that would make me smart and then I can, in turn, turn around and do smart, good things for our state?” The comment was met with resounding applause and led to action from the governor himself.
Speaking in a press conference following the town hall, Gov. Justice cited Titus-Glover’s question as the impetus for reevaluating his stance and reasoning, saying, “I was looking at it as what the prudent thing was to do and not as investment.”
The boy’s reasoned approach to an inflammatory issue was celebrated by those seeking a return to work for both teachers and students.
Speaking to local news station WTRF, Titus-Glover was as shocked as anyone that he was cited for the shift in policy, offering, “I didn’t expect this. People were saying, ‘good job, good job,’ but I didn’t expect this much to come out of it.”