Opinion

February 22, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 7

Commentary

  Opinion

How ironic that in announcing the illegal strike of public school teachers and education service workers Monday evening in front of the Senate chambers at the State Capitol, union chief Fred Albert stated: “We are left with no choice.”

Thank you, Mr. President of the West Virginia branch of the American Federation of Teachers, for stating succinctly and strongly how most parents of school-age kids in West Virginia feel. They don’t have a choice of where they send their kids to school.

But actually, the union chiefs did have choices. They could have worked the bill in the Legislature like representatives of other organizations do. They could have pointed out the positive and negatives as they saw them, and they at least could have waited till the Senate voted before calling a strike.

But the truth is, the union chiefs and others in the education establishment don’t have good reasons to oppose portions of the bill they say are “bad.” Those bad portions — education savings accounts and charter schools — often work really well in many other states.

But those changes give parents choice and students opportunity; two things that threaten the entrenched, monopolistic education establishment in West Virginia. Because if school choice and charter schools are successful once tried, West Virginians will start asking why we don’t expand them and why we have so many outdated rules and structures that prevent success in other schools.

The bureaucracy and unions can’t have people questioning them. They are more concerned with preserving their embedded power than they are producing an excellent education for the state’s children.

The state of West Virginia too, has a choice of whether to accede to the resisters of positive change while other states innovate and pass us by, or make changes to improve the school system. Judging from the House of Delegates action Tuesday to kill SB 451, it looks like the state has chosen the former — for now.

The only ones without much choice regarding education in West Virginia are the ones who need it most — the parents who don’t have the financial wherewithal to send their kids to the state’s higher performing private schools or home-school them, and the students who — in too many cases — are stuck in low-performing schools based on their ZIP code.

But you can bet that after the events of this week many of those parents are reordering their priorities, taking a closer look at their budgets, and sending resumes out for higher paying jobs (if not jobs in other states with better education systems) in order to find a way to afford to send their kids to better schools.

The unfortunate choice too many parents are stuck with is to keep their children in low-performing schools that the education establishment chooses not to even try to improve.

 

Daily Mail editorial - February 21, 2019. Used by permission.