Opinion

February 12, 2016 — Volume 36 Issue 5

Commentary

“Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.” - Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766-1817), a French-speaking Swiss author living in Paris and abroad who influenced literary tastes in Europe at the turn of the 19th century.

 


 

 

By Thomas Campbell

My view of Fayette County is shaped primarily from my 16-year legislative experience. I enjoyed working with the many delegates and senators from Fayette County over the years. They were all loyal West Virginians and we shared many “battles” working for our part of the state.

I also gained a lot of knowledge about Fayette County as I got to know the good citizens of Western Greenbrier over the years.

In my mind ALL Fayette County citizens take a great deal of pride in their communities and in their county. They have shown that by passing fire levies and one of the very few of West Virginia’s 55 counties to pass a 100 percent school levy to support their schools. Now they ALL share the frustration of schools that are not meeting the needs of the Fayette County students.

West Virginia’s system of education over the last several decades has been based on the outside/in mentality. If we regulate and standardize and consolidate and force feed our students what they need, by golly they will learn! Well, that is not working and Fayette County is the poster child for that.

Fayette County and West Virginia deserve better. I think it is time to shift to the inside/out mentality. In just reading Sen. Byrd’s autobiography, I was touched by how much his community nourished him and he was inspired to learn on his own. 

West Virginians get community and we get it well. So let’s set up a system of education that nourishes the body and soul of our young people from the inside and inspire them to learn. 

What do we have to lose? Let’s start by giving Fayette Countians an opportunity to vote on a bond that keeps the schools they have in place — ALL of them. Matched with money from the School Building Authority, Fayette County could have very good buildings, but more importantly, they will maintain the communities needed to nourish and inspire the children.

West Virginia now spends up to $400 million on transporting children out of their communities. We move children away from support of family and friends, we tire them out going to and from school and then we expect them to learn.

Because of our heavy dependence on busing, we cancel schools so often that truly the only way get the time on task we need is to go year round. It just does not make sense. With technology today, I know students can be connected to curriculum anywhere in the world from almost anywhere in West Virginia (that has cell service).

So let’s do what worked for Sen. Byrd and many others. Let’s find a way to strengthen our community schools and let’s start in Fayette County.

— Tom Campbell of Greenbrier County is a member of the West Virginia Board of Education, the West Virginia School Building Authority and a former member of the House of Delegates.

Editor’s Note: This column appeared in the January 14, 2016, edition of the Register-Herald, Beckley. Used by permission.