Members of this year’s senior class hold a special distinction having been born in the year when Osama Bin Laden and his gang of terrorists attacked the country on 911----September 11, 2001----changing the USA forever. While those changes haven’t meant much to them because they’ve always been there for them, the changes have become the new norm for their parents.

My eldest granddaughter Madison, now a Sr. at CRHS was just a few months old when the attacks took place and knows about it through history, videos and accounts replayed countless times on television and other mediums, but the rest of us watched it on live TV while fearful of what it all meant for our country and our kids.

But, we have, in spite of being in continuous warfare, survived with fresh scars; even to the point that division marks our society more than being unified does. You remember that too as a part of those 911 days when the country was one, unified against these enemies who killed over 3,000 of our fellow citizens, don’t you? Yet, today it seems we can come together on little, more often than not having no ability it seems to agree to disagree.

As this year’s class moves through the next nine months to finish their public school years they will create many new memories while observing some older ones. Hopefully they will mark 911 with special dedication knowing they are part of the first full generation to have grown with the memory of those eventful days with a personal pledge to use what they have and will learn to help move this country together.

That, it seems to me will really be one of the things to make us great again, if you happen to be of the belief that we aren’t as great a nation as we once were. We can always do better, especially if we remember the past.

A quality education is unquestionably one of those things most everyone agrees is one of the keys to, at least, financial success, and irrevocably hooked to that idea is the fact it takes teachers, other educators and support staff to make it happen in a way that pays off for all stakeholders. The bull-in-the-china-shop issue that’s present in nearly every political race this election---the financial future of PEIA has profound implications not only for those who need it for medical coverage, but the future of education itself rests on being able to create a compensation package that’s realistic for future teachers.

If you were a young man or woman who has a tendency to like the idea of teaching others as life’s work, would you seriously consider it as a field of study for college or would you consider the earning power of other professions or vocations and choose something else. Thankfully some do in spite of the poor outlook on wages and benefits based on today’s offerings by government. And even though the recent strike produced some good results, the key to success for our educators will be sustaining buying power and reasonable healthcare year in and year out.

The trick for those asking for your votes in all of this will be just how to accomplish fairness and affordability in the PEIA system. They will realize very soon, the new ones, that no matter how much money they throw at the PEIA issue the costs continue to rise annually. It reduces policyholders spending power and even medical providers get hit hard as well because of the very low reimbursement rates paid to them by the insurance company. It’s a very real problem for all involved, especially if you are retired and your spending power is reduced every year that medical and insurance costs continue to rise.

A number of ideas were presented at a recent listening tour stop at Logan High School’s Little Theater. Some of the scenarios described by school personnel were heart rendering and just plain sad. The group representing the governor’s task force on PEIA were there led by Senate President Mitch Carmichael, listened, even made some comments, but nothing compared to some of the medical horror stories told by the mostly teacher filled crowd which filled the theatre. The need is great and it is at an emergency status. But I digress.

Without a solid and longlasting solution to improving the financial lot of those who teach our children, fewer and fewer will choose the profession creating even more trouble for future generations of students just because there won’t be enough qualified educators to do the job correctly. It will have a profound effect not only on those students and their futures, but business, industry, every possible area in which qualified personnel are needed to fill a job requiring training or education of some sort.

The debate will continue and will even heat up some during the coming campaign and come to a head again when the legislature meets in January. The answers are not going to come easily. But for those teachers and support personnel that are in the system today, it is of utmost importance this issue be met head on by lawmakers, not only for today, but for the long ranged future as well.

And, don’t forget that in this mix of stakeholders are retired teachers and state employees, active state employees and most importantly taxpayers and an economy limited by about 400,000 bread winners who pay the bills across West Virginia.

No doubt you have learned as I have, if you are old enough, that life is a series of re-births, begin agains, as Kipling put it in his poem “If” that if you had to you’d just start over again rather than to rest on your duff and count the days to your mortal end. I don’t want that so I am beginning again with this internet column or blog which the force at WVOW has agreed to help sponsor on its website.

Jay Nunley is giving this old editor, teacher and public servant a chance to continue my pursuit of happiness by making contributions to this page from time to time on subjects ranging the length of the alphabet….but you can bet I will be writing when I do about education and its impact on our economy, citizens and at large society. I hope they will be informative, entertaining, enlightening and serve a purpose as I gaze at our culture here in southwestern West Virginia to talk about the tidbits that go into making up a great West Virginian….after all the terms greatness and West Virginian are synonymous.

In addition to appearances on the iconic “Whats Your Opinion” I will couple that with offerings about growing up on the Guyandotte, politics and public issues. A public classroom if you will. It will also resurrect an old column monicker I used at The Banner entitled “Mining the Barker Seam” my tribute to coal and coal mining and the society it supported for over 150 years. The section will consist of commentary as well as coverage of event requiring a watchdog for government. There is a vital need for our citizens to know what is going on in government and about the activities in which they are engaged----a need for transparency and analysis.

At the age of 71 I have less vigor and energy for the task, but even more the desire to work in this venue at this age demands I take a crack at it. One final last opportunity to get it done without bias, with truth and just plain ol’ done right; to stay busy, to stay active, not to quit or give up in this age of Trump and political change.

I thought about boring you with my resume, but what the heck. If you want to know about that you can send me an email at or look for Raamie Barker on facebook. But my most recent full time job was as Driver Education instructor at Chapmanville Regional High School. I came to that job after working nearly 20 years for Governor and Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin. I wanted to finish my working days where I started, in the classroom and got to do that thanks to the driving teaching job. Glad I did, too, it gave me some new perspectives I needed to help enable me to do this one.

So this is the baptismal offering. Look for an offering very soon on the PEIA crisis in West Virginia.

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