After a historic nine-day strike, West Virginia teachers return to their classrooms today. In their own words, they explain why they went on strike, and how this fight was about far more than education.
It’s a balmy Monday morning in January, and 17-year-old Benjamin Calvin isn’t at school. His attendance had been spotty since his senior year started the previous August, but after the winter break he stopped showing up altogether. He says he’s in the midst of transferring to an online school, but just a month later, on his 18th birthday, he dropped out of that program as well. The Texas teen’s qualms with school were far ranging: He was bullied in middle school, his teachers moved too fast for him to keep up, and sitting still for long lengths of time was almost as torturous as the early morning start time. So when Benjamin, whose problems in school generally stemmed from a handful of sensory and learning disabilities, was arrested, charged with a Class C misdemeanor and expelled to a disciplinary school called the Alternative Learning Center in April of his junior year, it only solidified his opinion that his Austin-area high school—or any high school, for that matter—wasn’t the right place for him.
In 2015,The New York Times ranked Roanoke as one of the hardest city's to get out of poverty. How is the Virginian city drawing on its long civil rights legacy to image a more prosperous future for all its citizens?