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Education the key to moving forward

According to the dictionary the definition of a leader is someone who leads, guides or shows the way. This is a pivotal time in West Virginia for a variety of reasons and we need strong, intelligent, and forward looking leadership to carry us through this critical moment in our history. I believe Stephen Smith is that leader.

Fifteen months ago I became familiar with Stephen Smith and the WV Cant’s Wait campaign. As a retired teacher I was impressed with the movement’s plans for education in West Virginia and his support for teachers during the 2018 strike. He stood on the picket lines and raised more than $300,000 in donations to support the striking teachers and their families.

I personally feel that education is the key to moving West Virginia forward and in helping keep our young people here. Sadly, both of our daughters felt it necessary to move out of state to advance their careers. It’s happening every day and unless there is a bold plan to turn the tide it will keep happening. We can’t afford to lose these bright young West Virginians.

Stephen Smith and WV Can’t Wait are on the side of school children, teachers and school service personnel, people who want more learning and less testing, people fighting for better public education, and students who want to stay in West Virginia. After thousands of conversations, the citizens of the state have spoken and they agree that we need smaller class sizes, less time spent on testing and more time spent on the arts, technical education, and entrepreneurship. They also want fewer educational resources spent in Charleston and more in classrooms. And lastly, all agreed that teachers need to receive higher pay and better benefits (including fully funding PEIA and loan forgiveness) — so we aren’t starting each school year with 900+ classroom vacancies.

Stephen Smith’s policy plan for education is just one of 30 plans that are part of the WV Can’t Wait platform. Each plan was written by the people most impacted by the issue. These policies are stitched together in a platform that chooses the side of small businesses and working families over corporate lobbyists and out of state monopolies. That’s what I love about this movement. It isn’t led by one person, but by all of us. 93 candidates and thousands of volunteers are pitching in everyday.

In light of recent events, WV Can’t Wait has also drafted a comprehensive coronavirus plan which includes scientifically based information, testing sites, food resources, and current information about voting in the upcoming primary.

I would encourage you to visit wvcantwait.com and read any or all of the plans. You can also contact Stephen at stephen@wvcantwait.com. If we all work together we’ll get through this difficult time and come out stronger on the other side.

Cindy Stemple

Elkins

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