LET ME BE FRANK: On Education


“It was the times when I was in class and the teacher taught me a lesson about life and my mind opened up, or the moments when I walked through the halls each day with people I cared about. These moments that were so ordinary and regular are the ones I will miss the most.”

I spoke these words at my high school graduation, not thinking that I would be writing them again several years later. I am a product of West Virginia education. I grew up here, and I learned here. I learned lessons that shaped me to be who I am today, and I owe that to many of my teachers. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of wonderful, extraordinary teachers I had while being educated here–from kindergarten through college. West Virginia teachers are a rare breed, because, trust me, they aren’t in it for the money. If that were the case, then I wouldn’t have had some of the most extraordinary teachers that I had, because they would be elsewhere, maybe in a state right across the river.

In the past few weeks, I have had to watch my teachers upset and unappreciated. They march the streets while aloof politicians toy with their fates. My heart breaks knowing that schools will be shut down this week, knowing that teachers will be walking out of the classrooms they love. They do this because they must.

West Virginia legislators love to talk about moving our state forward, and I know one thing is for sure, if quality education is not a priority, we will only fall further behind. Students like me have left, are leaving or will leave soon. As a public university student, I get a clear message that the state leaders don’t care about me, and I will remember that when I graduate in the fall and begin making career decisions.

West Virginia politicians are making it hard to love West Virginia. But it seems no matter how loud we scream, nothing will stop them from doing whatever it is  they want to do. West Virginia teachers: it’s time to teach these leaders a lesson.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]