By Moriah Balingit Oct. 19, 2019 at 6:37 p.m. EDT
McDowell County in West Virginia is one of the poorest in the nation. Meeting students’ basic needs is as important as reading and math.
WELCH, W.Va. — The ceremony had the feel of a church service.
Standing at the end of a block lined mostly with empty storefronts, officials wielded a crackly PA system, their voices carrying over the din of coal trucks that rumbled through the town. They stood in the shadow of a half-constructed building whose workers paused to take in the spectacle.
“That is our belief: that small towns can thrive again, that all children regardless of demography or geography can thrive,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union, last month. She grew louder, her voice rising with each word: “From this day forward, we commit that not one more school, not one more hospital, not one more post office, not one more grocery store — should close on our watch!”