How does West Virginia’s family continue to fight the teacher, how to deal with child care?
West Virginia teachers are on the eighth day of a statewide strike. The problem is that what the teachers say is not keeping up with the cost of living. NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks with Amber Glennon, director of operations at the Eastern Panhandle boys and girls club in martinsburg, West Virginia.
Host MARY LOUISE KELLY:
The West Virginia state Capitol still has no agreement on pay and benefits for public school teachers, which has no effect on the teachers’ strike that began on February 22nd.
ARI SHAPIRO, host:
After years of unpaid wages, teachers have increased their pay for better health benefits and 5 percent. The governor and the house of representatives agree. The state senate wants to raise 4% rather than 5%.
Kelly: when all the public schools are closed, we want to know how children spend their days, so we send NPR producer Art Silverman to martinsburg. It lies to the east of the state.
SHAPIRO: he stopped at the Galaxy Skateland roller skating rink and on Monday found a surprising buzz. Amber Maynard said the rink added extra time for skating and arcade games.
AMBER MAYNARD: business, it’s booming, because kids are doing nothing. So it just wants to have an external source, not their family to get rid of energy.
AMBER GLENNON: we’re in the middle of our playroom. We have a train to set out. And then we had kids in our gym and in our computer lab.
SHAPIRO: now this has been going on for more than a week, right?
Greene: yes, Sir. This is the eighth day.
SHAPIRO: you’re not normally open during the day.
Greene: no, Sir. We didn’t open the door until we were 2, and most of our children didn’t start classes until they were 3 years old.
SHAPIRO: so what do you have to do to get these kids to go to a place during the day?
GLENNON: we opened the door earlier. In fact, we’re open at 8 a.m. and we’re here until our normal end time is 7. We also serve meals – extra meals. Therefore, our community, our teachers and staff, and everyone is so amazing, kind and donated items, so that these meals can be served for the children, and help offset the cost.
SHAPIRO: you’re just – I mean, you must be at the end of wisdom. I can only imagine. How does this whole experience feel?
GLENNON: on one level of the club, I’m glad we’re here so the kids can come and they have a place. Teachers and service staff have been enthusiastic about volunteering. Today we have a few in, we do mathematics, reading and language arts rich with children. This afternoon, we are going to do some STEM activities.
SHAPIRO: yeah. So how many children do you have per day?
GLENNON: about 50 or 52.
SHAPIRO: did you feel like a different place when you were traveling around town last week? Does it feel like this has changed Martin’s life?
GLENNON: I don’t think so. I mean, I still see friendship, and I see people still standing behind the teachers. I really don’t think it’s changed a lot. I think it has taught them about their pay levels and their earnings and other things – and I think that has brought that awareness to the community.
SHAPIRO: how many more days can you go on?
GLENNON: I don’t know.
SHAPIRO: do you think you’ve gone beyond the breaking point?
GLENNON: yes. I think as long as we open up, our employees will be here. We love our children, we do it because of them. It does make us an organization. When you sit down for a year’s budget, it’s not your plan.
SHAPIRO: are kids very happy and resilient, or do they look like their day and their uncertainty?
Greene: for the most part, I think children are inherently resilient. I know this – when they see their teacher come in, they’re very excited, you know – they’ve been to volunteer, or – they’re excited to see them. The teachers wanted to go back to school and we wanted to have kids with their teachers.
SHAPIRO: okay, Ms. Glennon, thank you for talking to us and what you did for the kids there.
Greene: yes, Sir. thank you
SHAPIRO: Amber Glennon is director of operations at the Eastern Panhandle boys and girls club in martinsburg, Virginia.