Diversification in WV: New Capitalism and the Illusions of Change

Through failure to diversify our economic development base, we have arrived at the point of having 10,000 homeless students, with no state budget redress for this crisis on the horizon. We are losing population faster than any other state in the country, and between the lack of employment and poor water quality, it’s no wonder. We talk about “College and Career Readiness,” then have closed shop doors and ghost towns to offer upcoming graduates. In short, when “new capitalism is global in real time,” WV has failed to keep up, and we have made sure we are designed for failure.

Although there are “new capitalism” jobs in our state which would fall under “substantial value-adding work,” many of them, based on computer programming and analytics go unfilled for long spans of time because Computer Science is NOT a required course offering in the state, and there is also no clear pathway for k-12 teachers to become certified to teach such courses. Additionally, the existing internet infrastructure in WV is the worst in the nation (worse even than Hawaii, which is an island halfway across the world), meaning that most of our citizens cannot engage with materials and tasks the way people in other states can, and are missing out on the opportunity to hone skills which are valued in a global, technological economy. As noted by Catherine Cobb Morocco and Judith M. Zorfass, “technology and progress have become indissolubly linked in the minds of many parents, educators, and policy makers,” however, actually PROVIDING equitable technology to our citizens has not been a high priority here. Our legislature was too worried about gay people and raw milk to adequately address our tech deficiencies. Our internet at home has been so slow this weekend, we can’t even watch GIFs. It takes 3 minutes to load a photo. Living in a “Technology Innovation Zone” where cows graze under the sign apparently means same old, same old.

No, we counted on coal, oil, and gas, and we will embrace them unto death, apparently. Our legislators want control of what and how we teach, especially in regards to what they see as the fairy tale of global warning, and want to make sure we don’t conflict with corporate interests who line their pockets.

I was extremely disappointed to see Jim Justice receiving a recommendation from WVEA when he ran for governor, as I view him as an instigator of the same problems we’ve always had. He’s borne out this expectation with dramatic flair, and I’m pleased to see Stephen Smith challenging him and encouraging us to become leaders.

So what can you do when all seems bleak? Find others who are moved to act in whatever capacity they can. Look at who is working to effect positive changes for WV– groups like Our Children Our FutureWV Sierra ClubHoller Health Justice, and Fairness WV, to name a few. Find your path with heart and become actively engaged as we strive to manifest a brighter horizon.

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