Laura Flanders Show - Beating Poverty by Investing in Teachers: A Labor Story for May Day
McDowell County, West Virginia, in the heart of what used to be coal country, is one of the most impoverished counties in the US - a place that embodies the challenges facing many American areas in transition. But something new is happening there; it's called Reconnecting McDowell, a multi-partner effort, led by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Can education be the driver of local economic and social development in one of the poorest places in the US? What if the best anti-poverty program is investing in teachers and children? In this episode, for May 1, a traditional labor holiday around the world, we take a look at Reconnecting McDowell and speak to some of the beneficiaries. Drawing on some of the labor movement's earliest traditions, could this partnership between local drive and national commitment provide a model for the future? "I feel like we are coming back to serve and coming back to plant seeds in an area where we have let our seeds and the grass wither and go dry. It's time to quit looking for the grass that's greener on the other side and actually plant seeds." - Nadia Johnson, Communities in School Coordinator, Mount View High School, Welch, WV "We have to start with the little mom and pop shop that hires two or three people. And then you have another little mom and pop shop that hires two or three people. And we keep going with that momentum." - Harold McBride, Mayor of Welch, McDowell County, WV "What we've learned here is that the first action is not to point fingers. The first action is not to blame. The first action is to come together and figure out what we need to do, who needs to do it, and whose voice has to be heard." - Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO Guests: Nadia Johnson, Communities in School Coordinator, Mount View High School, Welch, WV; Harold McBride, Mayor of Welch, McDowell County, WV; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
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