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March 15, 2013 - Volume 33 Issue 11

 

“Journalism is literature in a hurry.” – Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet and cultural critic.

 


By Jim Wallace

A revised version of Gov. Tomblin’s education reform bill made it through two Senate committees this week and could be passed by the full Senate as early as today.

However, legislative leaders, representatives of teachers and school service workers and administration officials reportedly met Thursday afternoon to discuss potential changes in Senate Bill 359. One sign that negotiations were underway was that Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, and House Education Chairwoman Mary Poling, D-Barbour, were not present for the afternoon meetings of their committees. Their vice chairmen presided in their absence. Also, top leaders of the West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia – who had criticized the bill as “a step backward” and “a teacher-bashing bill” – did not attend those committee meetings.

Thus, the bill could undergo more changes before it emerges from the Senate, or the House of Delegates could make changes when it gets the bill as early as next week.

Plymale had hoped to get the bill out of his committee last week, but work on changes made as a result of negotiations during the week was not complete in time. So he held the bill over for work over the weekend. When the revised bill came up before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, the committee took less than an hour to approve it without further changes, although two members offered amendments.

Among the changes made in the bill before the committee took it up on Tuesday were inclusion of a provision to require schools to hold at least four faculty senate meetings each school year, changes in a section about Teach for America to refer to a more generic “national teaching corps” for filling positions in shortage areas and a change in the procedure for handling missed school days. Another new provision is a requirement for the Department of Education to cut personnel costs by 5 percent over the next two years.

Much of the disagreement between teachers’ unions and bill supporters has been over the role of seniority in hiring decisions. The bill says seniority still would have to be a factor in those decisions, but it wouldn’t necessarily have to carry the same weight as seven other factors. Seniority currently is supposed to have equal weight with other factors, but critics of the law have complained that it usually is the determining factor.

 

Proposed amendments are rejected.

Sen. Daniel Hall, D-Wyoming, offered a few amendments that presumably would have pleased the teachers’ unions. “I think there are a lot of good things in this bill,” he said, but the section on the national teaching corps was not one of them, so he proposed to take it out. “I understand the intent, but I feel there are too many questions out there. It’s not providing long-term solutions to our certified teacher shortage. I feel like it’s a Band-Aid.”

A few committee members voted with him, but most were against it. Likewise, they rejected his proposal to amend the bill to ensure that seniority would have equal weight with other factors in personnel decisions. And his third proposed change to require the school calendar to fall within a 46-week period (a compromise between the current 43-week limit and the bill’s removal of that limit) fell to a similar fate.

“Teachers are paid for 200 days, 180 instructional days. There’s not a person in this committee room who would be willing to pay somebody a full amount for not getting a full value.” – Sen. Erik Wells

On the last amendment, Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, objected, saying it would make it harder to reach the objective of having 180 instructional days each school year. “Teachers are paid for 200 days, 180 instructional days,” he said. “There’s not a person in this committee room who would be willing to pay somebody a full amount for not getting a full value.”

Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, also tried to amend the bill by returning to original language on planning periods that said they must be at least 30 minutes long, rather than the length of a regular teaching period. He said he wanted to give local school officials more control.

“Nothing says it can’t be longer than 30 minutes,” Carmichael said. “If the local schools and county boards of education want it to be longer and feel it’s in the best interest to be longer, then so be it.”

But Sen. Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas, spoke out against the amendment. He said teachers are asked to do a lot, and he was afraid that, if the law would say a planning period should not be less than 30 minutes, then all planning periods would be 30 minutes. The committee rejected Carmichael’s amendment.

In the end, the committee approved Senate Bill 359 on a divided voice vote. Later, four senators asked to be recorded as voting against the bill. They were: Hall; Bob Beach, D-Monongalia; Truman Chafin, D-Mingo; and Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley.

 

Reactions to bill are divided.

After that meeting, Wade Linger, president of the state school board, said he was happy with the bill as it stood. “I’m really pleased with all the work that went into the initial bill,” he said. “I know they’ve worked very hard here in the Senate to clean it up and make it a little more clear about the intent. I look forward to the remainder of the process.”

But leaders of teachers’ unions were upset. At the end of last week, they thought they might get more changes to their liking in the bill than what they ended up with. What came out of the committee on Tuesday was “a step backward” in the opinion of Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association.

“The bill as it stands is not much different than what it originally started out with,” he said. “We’ve been able to clean up some things, but the major sticking points are still there. We thought we’d made some progress on those only to find that progress had been negated on Monday. I’m very disappointed in that. I thought that we had good talks and should be able to continue those talks, and to fall back really is discouraging to me.”

Lee said he wasn’t sure about getting substantial changes in the bill before it would get out of the Senate, but he expressed hope about getting it changed in the House of Delegates. In the past, the House has been considered friendlier to teachers’ union interests, because the House Education Committee was dominated by teachers, retired teachers and others with connections to public schools. But Republicans made strong gains in the House as a result of last year’s elections, so the composition of that committee and the whole House has changed quite a bit. Thus, many observers have predicted the House might not be as friendly to teachers’ interests.

“You know, it’s always tough, but that’s the process,” Lee said. “You have to take the things that you have and present your arguments and hope that you can convince people of your arguments.”

Judy Hale, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, expressed even more displeasure over the bill. She was especially upset with what she saw as a lack of objectivity in the hiring procedure. She referred to it as the “friends and family plan,” a reference to the possibility that school boards and administrators could fill positions with their friends and relative.

“We’re very disappointed,” Hale said. “Some of the most egregious parts of the bill are there. They left the hiring language so that it’s the friends and family plan. The superintendent and board can hire anybody that they want to. The eight criteria really don’t mean anything now, the way they got the hiring criteria there.”

Likewise, she did not like it that a school board could schedule instructional days anytime during the year and that the Teach for America still would be allowed to operate in West Virginia. Hale said that would lower the standards for entering the teacher profession, because Teach for America participants don’t have to go through the same training and certification as other teachers.

“This is not an education reform bill. This is a teacher-bashing bill.” – Judy Hale

“This is not an education reform bill,” she said. “This is a teacher-bashing bill. If they wanted to do an education reform bill, they would be doing the kind of work that AFT is doing in Reconnecting McDowell. They would be working on community schools and trying to raise academic achievement. Very little in this bill will raise any academic achievement for our children.”

 

Bill gets through Senate Finance.

The next stop for the bill was the Senate Finance Committee, but that committee was limited to considering the financial implications of the bill. According to a fiscal note prepared by the Department of Education, the bill would result in more savings than costs. The department projected total savings of almost $630,000 for the next fiscal year and almost $2.2 million for the following fiscal year. Among the savings would be $1.1 million a year that county school boards are projected to save because professional development would be reorganized to be provided locally and regionally. County boards also are projected to save more than $2.9 million by having more flexibility to transfer personnel among schools.

The biggest projected cost would be almost $3.4 million to expand pre-kindergarten programs from part-day to full-day. The cost of creating a teachers’ assistant position for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten is projected to be more than $1.2 million.

But Sen. Unger was disturbed that, even though the Department of Education was cutting positions, the state school board had decided to add positions. Those positions include a new director of operations with a salary of $104,000. The board hired Donna Peduto, a former department administrator who had spent the last several months helping the board prepare its response to the education efficiency audit. The board has plans for two more new positions, including an attorney who would report directly to the board.

“So as we’re cutting the West Virginia Department of Education with positions, and all these other departments, you’re adding positions, just kind of shifting over,” Unger said in a long exchange with Linger at the Finance Committee meeting.

“The state board of education is attempting to create a staff so that we can effectively do our job,” Linger responded. “It’s just not been possible in the past.”

When Unger asked who the state board answers to, Linger said it is a constitutional body, so it answers only to the West Virginia Constitution.

“The state board is going through the process and above-board asking for funding to fund these positions,” Linger said. “We’re not trying to slide around through the system. We’re upfront asking for them, and that’s why we’re having this conversation now.”

Linger reminded Unger that the Education Department has not filled 20 vacant positions at Building 6 of the Capitol Complex. “So without being an accountant, my assumption is that some of the money that was in the budget that could have funded one of those positions has been allocated over to do this,” he said. But that didn’t appease Unger.

“So I can see this now,” Unger said. “If there’s a position that goes unfilled in the West Virginia Department of Education, all you would have to do is shift it over to the board of education.”

The Legislature and the governor should have some say in that, he said, adding that he didn’t think the school board had enough authority to do it on its own.

“My concern on this bill is that we’re going to be cutting the West Virginia Department of Education by 5 percent for the next two years. That’s to tell the people that we’re actually doing something about the education audit, but it appears – at least in my mind, and I want you to correct me – that it’s a shell game. We’ll take away from here and just put it over here.” – Sen. John Unger

“My concern on this bill is that we’re going to be cutting the West Virginia Department of Education by 5 percent for the next two years,” Unger said. “That’s to tell the people that we’re actually doing something about the education audit, but it appears – at least in my mind, and I want you to correct me – that it’s a shell game. We’ll take away from here and just put it over here.”

To that, Linger replied, “Believe me, I’ve spent a good bit of my life for the last nine months on that audit, and I know what it says. And what the audit says is, in that regard, it says that basically what goes on in Building 6 is bloated. That’s a shortcut for what it says. It says that we need to reallocate more resources out to the local level where it can be effective in the classroom and not keep it here in Charleston. So when we take millions of dollars and 10 to 20 positions and we move them out of Building 6 and shove them out into the RESAs or out into the local areas, that’s exactly what the audit imagined. To say that the board of education that’s actually stepping up and doing this and making this stuff happen needs a person or two on staff to help make that happen is somehow contributing to the problem, I just don’t agree with that.”

But Unger said, “I don’t know why you need staff if you have a superintendent and all the staff over there to start implementing this.”

Linger pointed out that the state school board and the Education Department are not the same entity. He said sometimes the goals of the board and those of the department are not the same.

“You’re right about that,” Linger said. “But there’s a myriad of competing interests out there, and they have different missions, and they’re all out there doing it all the time. And the state board of education is eight, sometimes nine – hopefully nine soon – people who do this basically as much as we can, but we all have regular jobs. This is not some kind of fulltime paid position or anything like that. So we feel that we can be more effective if we have a couple of people who are in the loop every day keeping things moving for us.”

“It sounds like you’re adding another layer,” Unger said.

“The Constitution put the layer there,” Linger responded. He added that the Legislature has the power to control it if legislators don’t think the board should have any staff.

After Unger was done, Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale came to Linger’s defense.

“In all the time I’ve been here, 21 years, I’ve never had as many meetings and had as much candor from a board president as you,” he said. “You have been more engaged than any board that I have ever worked with in this time.”

Plymale noted that the Senate also has added staff in the past couple of years. “I got one that is fulltime, and I really appreciated that,” he said. Plymale added that he saw how having to rely on department staff hindered the board in addressing some issues from the audit.

“It’s a new time when the board, the Legislature and the governor’s office are talking very much so, and I appreciate that.” – Sen. Bob Plymale

“It’s a new time when the board, the Legislature and the governor’s office are talking very much so, and I appreciate that,” he said.

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, also supported Linger. “What you’re simply doing is the same thing we would do in business is you’re setting up a simple administration,” he said. “I think that’s a great idea.”

The Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 359 with a few senators in dissent, and the bill later received its second of two required readings on the Senate floor. That put it in position for possible approval by the Senate today, unless behind-the-scenes negotiations would change that.

 

Senator wants state school board members to be elected.

However, Unger did not let go of his disagreement with the state school board. On the Senate floor, he suggested that West Virginia needs a constitutional amendment to change positions on the board from being appointed to being elected. He said that would make board members more accountable.

“That staff person may be needed, but the issue is accountability and process,” Unger said, adding that he was sick of West Virginia ranking 49th in education. He said education reform is needed badly, but too much of the focus in the reform effort had been on the hiring of teachers.

“What this amendment does, it gives the people of West Virginia an opportunity to vote on if they want to take control of their education system, and look at the hiring practices of the state board of education,” Unger said. Reading from the state Constitution, he said the only person it mentions the board as being responsible for hiring is the state superintendent. He suggested the Legislature should investigate the board’s decision to hire a director of operations.

“I think there’s a real constitutional problem and a legal problem in which they may have overstepped their bounds,” Unger said. “But who do they answer up to? Well, I was told the Constitution, but the Constitution doesn’t authorize it.”

The people of West Virginia should control who is on the board, so when the board oversteps its bounds, it would have to answer to the people, he said.

“I was told one pushback could be, well, you don’t want to politicize the state board of education,” Unger said. “Well, all you got to do is see some of the members on there, and if you don’t think there’s politics on the state board of education, then I’m not sure you can see any of this.”

 

 

By Jim Wallace

Judging by the reception state Supt. Jim Phares received from members of the West Virginia School Board Association, school board members strongly support the education reforms being considered by the governor, the Legislature and the state school board. Phares told them at the WVSBA’s Winter Conference last Friday that passage of the education reform bill moving through the Legislature would result in many changes for school board members and others in the public school system.

“Education in West Virginia must change, and it must change now.” – Supt. Jim Phares

“Education in West Virginia must change, and it must change now,” he said. “The governor’s education bill is a good start.”

Phares said that, if the education system is to change, every county school board will need to do its part. He said that the state’s low rankings in scores for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the ACT and SAT college entrance tests demonstrate the need for education reform in West Virginia. But he said much misinformation has been put out about what Gov. Tomblin’s education reform bill would do.

The need for change, in his opinion, is embodied in the answers to a few questions Phares posed:

  1. Why is it important for kids to read a grade level by the end of third grade? When they’re not, they get further and further behind each year, he said, and each year, their potential to drop out of school increases. Phares said such students stop participating before they actually drop out.
  2. Why is it important for students to graduate from high school ready for college and career? Phares said West Virginia needs to embrace career readiness. “We know how to get a certain group of students ready for college, and that’s a good thing, but we really haven’t wrapped our arms around this career readiness,” he said.
  3. Why is it important for students to be taught by great teachers? “Every school board deserves to have great teachers working for them,” Phares said. “This problem isn’t about the teachers and the principals; this problem is owned by all of us. But the only people that are being bashed now are principals and teachers and school board members.”
  4. Why is it important for students to be able to learn in a variety of ways? Phares said some people learn best by doing, not by listening to lectures.

 

Flexibility is needed in school calendar development.

“We’ve been gaming this system for 15 years at least. Ever since I’ve been a superintendent, we’ve been gaming the system. I think local boards ought to have flexibility in developing a calendar.” – Supt. Jim Phares

On the issue of ensuring that students get enough instructional time, he said, “We’ve been gaming this system for 15 years at least. Ever since I’ve been a superintendent, we’ve been gaming the system. I think local boards ought to have flexibility in developing a calendar.”

Phares said it is unreasonable for every county to have the same school calendar, because counties have different weather problems and other issues they must deal with. “We can’t make that decision wisely for everybody across the state,” he said. “You can make that decision for your county.”

Since he became state superintendent late last year, Phares has held a series of meetings with county school boards around the state. He said every board he has spoken with favors having more flexibility to set its own school calendar. WVSBA members applauded when he said, “This calendar discussion that we’re having – it ought to be focused on kids, not what’s good for employees.”

Ensuring that students get 180 days of instruction will require getting rid of restrictions school boards have faced in developing their calendars, Phares said. Students in surrounding states who get at least 180 days of instruction outperform West Virginia students, he said. One problem he cited is that instructional support and enhancement (ISE) days are improperly designated as instructional days even though students generally are not at school on those days. That brings the number of actual instructional days students can get, even when school days are not cancelled because of weather-related events, down to 175.

“Does that make sense to anybody in this room?” Phares asked. “I’ve tried to wrap my arms around that for 15 years, and I still have not been able to do that.”

On college and career readiness, Phares said less than 20 percent of the workforce is in jobs classified as unskilled, which is down from about 60 percent in 1959. He said half of today’s jobs require middle or high levels of skills, so schools must do more to help students acquire those skills.

 

Boards would have more freedom in hiring decisions.

On the subject of putting great teachers in classrooms, WVSBA members again responded with applause when Phares said, “You all need autonomy to ensure that you’re able to select the best person for the job.”

Although leaders of teachers’ unions have contended that seniority is not the dominant factor in hiring decisions, many school board members and administrators have said it is. Phares said the effects of seniority are not always apparent.

“We have become so entrenched in the second set of factors, which is seniority-based, that people don’t even apply for jobs if somebody does inside the system,” he said. “If we can break the culture of seniority – if seniority wasn’t important, as some organizations have said that it’s not, there wouldn’t be a second set of criteria. It is, and everybody that works with it on a daily basis – as a matter of fact, if all we had was a seniority-based selection process, I don’t know what we would need school boards for.”

Phares said the governor’s education reform bill, Senate Bill 359, would give school boards more say in hiring matters, because Gov. Tomblin believes in school boards. He also cautioned school board members that just because the Senate Education Committee did not act on the bill as planned last week didn’t mean that reforms in the bill were being weakened substantially.

“Don’t believe what you read in the paper,” Phares said. “It’s no retreat. It’s no surrender.” 

What was happening, he said, was just the normal process of trying to work with a wide range of interested parties to resolve problems in the bill.

“We’re trying to put the best teacher in the classes for our students, and we want our boards to be actively engaged in that. Is that so wrong? Seniority should not be the trump card in hiring.” – Supt. Jim Phares

“We’re trying to put the best teacher in the classes for our students, and we want our boards to be actively engaged in that,” Phares said. “Is that so wrong? Seniority should not be the trump card in hiring.”

One of the provisions of the bill that teachers’ unions have criticized would allow the national Teach for America program to operate in West Virginia and offer an alternative means for hiring individuals for hard-to-fill teaching positions.  Phares said it is needed because there are some school systems that can’t get people to apply for jobs.

“You know, the way some of our counties are doing it now, the certification is the mirror test,” he quipped. “If they can fog it up, they get hired.”

Returning to the subject of providing school boards with more autonomy in developing school calendars, Phares said, it means that state officials trust board members to handle that responsibility. “I believe you can do this,” he said.

Phares denied charges coming from members of teachers’ unions that the education reform bill would take away their paid holidays. He said school employees still would have seven paid holidays, one Election Day and 12 days for preparation, consultation and parent-teacher conferences. He charged that some school employees want to keep the state-imposed calendar system they have grown accustomed to instead of letting local school boards put together calendars in consultation with teachers, principals and parents.

“They want Charleston to determine when these days are in the calendar,” Phares said. “It doesn’t fit that way.”

Likewise, he said, providing more local autonomy in hiring practices would mean that school boards would be able to hire individuals based on their qualifications for jobs. It also would mean recruiting within communities, across the region, across the state, and sometimes nationally. Phares said boards would have to have policies to ensure no special treatment for hiring, supervision or discipline, as well as policies to ensure that relatives of staff members or board members get no special treatment in terms of hiring, supervision or discipline.

“We already know how to do it better than they think we do it,” he said in reference to the bill’s critics. Phares expressed confidence that county boards would prove they can make calendars that work, manage reductions-in-force and job transfers to balance budgets, understand the effects of policies, and determine appropriate relationships between boards and superintendents. But he said boards will need some help in doing that.

 

School boards must prepare for more authority.

“We really need to develop leadership capacity at our school board level,” Phares said. “Are you able to adapt and be flexible in this time of historic transformation? Because we’re not going to ask less of you; we’re going to ask more. We’re going to ask you to think. We’re going to ask you to feel. We’re going to ask you to actively engage in it.”

Phares said the Education Department is working in partnership with Marshall University, West Virginia University and the West Virginia School Board Association put together leadership support modules with a wide variety of topics that county boards can participate in. He said the Department of Education is putting $100,000 into the planning and implementation of the program. The modules will be based on national standards and approved by the Training Standards Review Committee.

“The governor has a belief, and the West Virginia state board of education believes that local school boards are the key to improving our current condition of student performance. Think about it. That’s a bold step. We’re not blaming you for the condition; we’re asking you to become part of the solution, and I think that you can.” – Supt. Jim Phares

“The governor has a belief, and the West Virginia state board of education believes that local school boards are the key to improving our current condition of student performance,” Phares said. “Think about it. That’s a bold step. We’re not blaming you for the condition; we’re asking you to become part of the solution, and I think that you can.”

In conclusion, Phares reminded school board members and administrators that they all work on behalf of students. He called the position of school board member “a blessed job, and it’s a cursed job at the same time.”

 

 

 

 

By Jim Wallace

Gov. Tomblin’s education reform bill had not yet gotten through its first legislative committee when a panel at the West Virginia School Board Association’s Winter Conference discussed it last Friday. But as much as panel members said the reforms in the bill were needed, they also warned school board members they had better be prepared for new responsibilities.

“Local control sounds wonderful. We all talk about it, and everyone says they want it. But I would challenge you that a lot of you don’t. I would challenge you that some of the teachers don’t and some of the principals don’t. And I’ll tell you why. Because when you’re given a menu and you’re told this is how you do it, you forget how to make the decisions differently. You forget how to be creative.” – Barbara Parsons

“Local control sounds wonderful,” Barbara Parsons, membership liaison to the WVSBA Executive Board, said. “We all talk about it, and everyone says they want it. But I would challenge you that a lot of you don’t. I would challenge you that some of the teachers don’t and some of the principals don’t. And I’ll tell you why. Because when you’re given a menu and you’re told this is how you do it, you forget how to make the decisions differently. You forget how to be creative.”

Her message was that school board members and local educators will have to exercise more creativity and be prepared to make more decisions if reform bill results in the state being less prescriptive to county districts about how they should manage their affairs. Parsons and other panel members expressed confidence that county boards and school officials could handle those responsibilities, but they are not to be taken lightly.

As they spoke, the Senate Education Committee had put off a decision on the bill for the weekend, and groups representing teachers and school service personnel were working to get some of its provisions derailed or changed significantly.

Hallie Mason, the governor’s public policy director, said that a majority of the calls the governor’s office was receiving came from people opposed to the bill. But she said the administration was undeterred about reforming the education system to give school boards more flexibility.

“The governor has his eye on increasing student achievement, and everything related to the bill as we move forward, that is what we are focused on,” Mason said. 

Dave Mohr, senior policy analyst for the House Education Committee, said he had seen many education reform proposals over the years, but the current reform bill is different. “I think this one finally gets to the point of saying, look, because of the [education efficiency] audit and the emphasis on a top-heavy administration, it is time to start looking at more flexibility at the local level to address those unique circumstances that each county has, and also to look more at where the rubber really meets the road in the classroom.”

Whatever the Legislature decides to do about education reform this year, Mohr said, he hopes it sticks for a while. Since 2000, he said, he has seen repeated changes in standards and assessments so that none of the changes had time to prove themselves.

“We’ve had some moving targets out there,” Mohr said. “We need a little more consistency and allowing county boards to strategically plan with their five-year plans, know what the expectations are and that the expectations aren’t going to change before they get there.” He added that many things done at the state level have limited counties’ ability to manage their own targets for improvement.

Greg Prudich, WVSBA Audit Response Team leader, said school board members are both optimistic about prospects for reform and frustrated because they’ve been thwarted so many times in the past.

“Our hands are tied behind our backs by statutes and policies that are weighing on us and not letting use make decisions…. The optimist in me is going to say I have noticed that Charleston is listening. The frustrated person in me is going to say they’re not listening enough.” – Greg Prudich

“Our hands are tied behind our backs by statutes and policies that are weighing on us and not letting use make decisions,” he said, but response to the education efficiency audit seems to have made a difference. “The optimist in me is going to say I have noticed that Charleston is listening. The frustrated person in me is going to say they’re not listening enough. It’s nice that we get control of our calendar, and it’s nice that we may get control of hiring. That is not enough. Those are procedural matters. Those don’t go to achievement. We need control over matters involving achievement. That’s the day-to-day operations of our school systems and the management of our classrooms by the teachers and by the administrators.”

Prudich compared reforms in public education to a big elephant. “We can’t eat it in one bite, nor should we try,” he said. “So it’s a good start to talk about the calendar and to talk about hiring practices, but it is not enough.”

County board members want to become partners with the Legislature and the Department of Education and the state superintendent, Prudich said, but too often, they feel like servers in a restaurant who get yelled at when the food turns out bad even though they didn’t cook it.

As an example of what can happen when local school officials are liberated from traditional policy constraints, he cited the Mercer County Vocational Education Center in his home county. Prudich said it has doubled in size, becoming the county’s largest high school, and received national awards. He said the school board left people in that school alone to do what they do as professionals. “When I say local flexibility and local control, that’s what I’m talking about,” he said.

Parsons, who is president of the Monongalia County school board, told her colleagues that they will have to learn to be better board members if the Legislature approves the education reform bill. “It will be our responsibility to facilitate that change, and so we will need to think differently,” she said. “We’ll need skillsets. We’ll need to make our own way and to make rules to some extent if we can get that more local autonomy, which I think is going to be very valuable to help us achieve the goals that we need to meet.”

“Here we are on the cusp of having some absolutely phenomenal change. I think where we are right now is probably the most exciting time in the 33 years that I’ve been involved in education. The reason is because the decision-making on what’s going on is going to be where it belongs – locally.” – Rick Hicks

Rick Hicks, executive director of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, offered a similar view. “The opportunity before us now is huge,” he said, adding that when the audit came out, some people doubted much of its recommended reforms would happen. “Here we are on the cusp of having some absolutely phenomenal change. I think where we are right now is probably the most exciting time in the 33 years that I’ve been involved in education. The reason is because the decision-making on what’s going on is going to be where it belongs – locally.”

Hicks, who served seven years as superintendent in the Tucker County schools, urged school board members to call legislators in support of the reform bill. “This is an opportunity we cannot waste,” he said. 

 

Panelists define local control.

After those initial comments, moderator Howard Seufer challenged the panel members to say what they thought more local control would mean.

Kay Goodwin, secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts, said, “Sometimes you get more than you ask for when you assume control of anything.” She said she has sensed the frustration of county school board members and believes they will be able to handle the decisions they will face if they are given more flexibility.

Mason said that the Recht decision on school funding about 30 years ago was focused on inputs, but now it’s time to consider outputs from the education system.

“Certainly, local school boards, principals and teachers can’t be held completely responsible for those outputs when they’re not given flexibility to make the decisions they need to make,” she said. As the administration envisions education reform, Mason said, school boards will be given some direction from the top in policy statements and a few directives but the county districts essentially will become incubators of change.

State Supt. Jim Phares said more local control will mean that school boards will be able to write policies that meet their needs. As an example, he said, a board might expand access to career-technical education programs and integrate more core subjects into them.

“One of the downsides of a top-down system is people on the local level tend to lose the initiative and creativity to try new things.”  – Dave Mohr

Mohr said, “One of the downsides of a top-down system is people on the local level tend to lose the initiative and creativity to try new things.”  He said the Legislature tried to prompt more local creativity two decades ago, when it put school improvement councils in place, but it wasn’t until recently that he saw a notable result of that: the Cabell County school system’s new teacher induction system that worked so well that other counties decided to try it. He called it “the first time in 23 years anybody exercised authority for local decision-making and stepping outside the box.”

The stifling of local control has occurred gradually over the years as the Legislature has put so many mandates into statutes that they’re reached a tipping point, Mohr said.

When Prudich was asked what he would tell the state school board, he said: “Go through every state board policy and change it from a prescriptive policy that says, you shall do A, B, C, to a policy that says, we want you to meet the following goals and aspirations, and you can figure out how to get there.”

Likewise, he said, the state board should remove limits that prevent school boards from spending money where it is really needed.

“The second thing I envision is the opportunity to free the classroom to go back to what it was when I was growing up, which is the teacher teaches without the burden of all the reporting, the paperwork and the stress,” Prudich said. “The teachers I know and the board members I know have no problem with accountability. The problem we have is being held accountable when we don’t have control.”

As an example, he said, the Mercer County had a good discipline policy it had to throw out when it was mandated to adopt the state’s policy.

Parsons, who warned school board members that they might not be ready for the local control they have requested, issued a challenge to them: “If we do change this, it will change the way our role works. It will require us to grow and to look about us and to seek out answers and ways that we’ve not been able to implement. It will filter down to the superintendent, who will be implementing some of the things that we think we need. That will filter on down to the principals. If they’re given more freedom in their employment, it will change the way teachers see these principals. It will change the way principals will be able to recruit their teachers and the teams they want to produce the outcomes for their students. It will change the teachers in the classroom, because they will now be able to use what they were taught to use as professionals, and that is right in front of the student creating systems and processes and ways to deliver education that they feel, at this point in time, they’re very limited in their ability to change.”

All that change could have huge effects, Parsons said. Some board members will be comfortable with it and some won’t, she said, and some staff members are looking forward to it while some aren’t. It’s easier to work from a menu than to design the menu yourself and buy the food, she said.

“Gone will be the days when you can say, I really don’t like this but they told me upstairs I had to do this.” – Rick Hicks

Similarly, Hicks said, “Gone will be the days when you can say, I really don’t like this but they told me upstairs I had to do this.” He said the end game will be results.

“The positive side of local control is ownership,” Hicks said. “If you have ownership, your intent is going to be more to make it work than sitting by saying, sorry, guys, I did what they told me to do from upstairs.”

The bottom line, he said, is that local school officials must be ready to take on the challenge and realize they need help in learning to do things better. But Hicks said he believes that when control is given to local people, the education system will improve.

 

RESAs still will have divided loyalties.

One change resulting from the education efficiency audit is that the Education Department is shifting more responsibility to the Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs), especially in delivering professional development services. But Seufer asked whether it would make sense to return the RESAs to local control.

Mohr said there has been much debate about RESAs, especially after the audit said West Virginia should make better use of them. He said that, when they began in the 1970s, they were controlled by the counties they serve, but that changed in the 1980s and 1990s, so they now come under the control of the state school board.

Parsons said her first concern is that RESAs are accountable to the state board when they are supposed to serve the counties in their regions. She said that does not lead to valid evaluations of how well they carry out their missions. She said county school boards should determine the goals and measures for RESAs and then hold them accountable.

Prudich said RESAs can be useful in providing county districts with economies of scale, help with professional development, and provide computer technicians. But he said they can’t serve two masters. So like Parsons, he said, the RESAs should be answerable to county school boards.

“I think there’s a great place for RESAs in West Virginia, but we need to redefine their purpose and be very specific about what it is. We need to strengthen RESAs and make them partners with the counties so we can provide more services in a cost-efficient manner.” – Greg Prudich

“I think there’s a great place for RESAs in West Virginia, but we need to redefine their purpose and be very specific about what it is,” Prudich said. “We need to strengthen RESAs and make them partners with the counties so we can provide more services in a cost-efficient manner.”

Goodwin said that, even though the Center for Professional Development is part of her department, the Department of Education and the Arts has had very little involvement with the RESAs on professional development. She noted that she is chairwoman of the Professional Staff Development Advisory Council, which meets twice a year.

“I was intrigued by the reports from all the RESAs as to what they were doing in professional development, because they seemed to vary so differently from RESA to RESA, which in many ways you could understand,” Goodwin said. The Center for Professional Development could do much to monitor and assist the RESAs’ professional development efforts, she said.

Hicks, who was chairman of the council overseeing RESA 7 for several years, said, “I think they’re invaluable.” He said they’re especially helpful for small counties, which benefit from sharing services with other counties.

Mason said RESAs were a significant part of the education efficiency audit, although they are not addressed in the governor’s education reform bill. However, she said, the governor’s education approach is three-pronged, so he is asking the Legislature to address only a portion of the changes. Others are coming through actions by the state school board and the governor’s own executive orders, she said.

“The governor thinks it’s important to move forward to figure out exactly what role RESAs need to play,” Mason said, adding that Gov. Tomblin wants to have a conversation with the state school board and with local education officials.

 

Board member wants to know why the state has restricted school boards so much.

When it came time for questions from the audience, Lori Kestner of the Marshall County school board asked why the Legislature has been afraid to give school boards more control.

Mohr responded, “The pendulum is swinging.” He explained that much of the state code was put into place because somebody did something wrong, so laws were passed to make sure others did not do the same thing. “I’ve dealt with situations where you wish you could just pass a law that says, ‘Don’t do something stupid, and I really mean it this time,’” Mohr said. Many people are realizing the code has been too prescriptive in trying to correct what somebody did wrong at some point, so legislators are ready to loosen it up, he said.

Phares said the state school board already is trying to eliminate policies that are too prescriptive. “The state board, I don’t believe, is afraid of local county boards,” he said.

Mason said Gov. Tomblin, who spent decades as a legislator, has heard board members’ concerns and the audit was “eye-opening.” She cited the section in the reform bill about accreditation of schools as an example of how things are expected to change for local school systems.

“Accreditation is going to change, and your local folks will be able to easily identify if their schools are improving or not, and they’ll be ringing your phones even more.” – Hallie Mason

“Accreditation is going to change, and your local folks will be able to easily identify if their schools are improving or not, and they’ll be ringing your phones even more,” Mason said.

But Prudich expressed some skepticism about the extent of changes that might result from the education reform bill. “We’re told on the one hand we’re going to reduce local control,” he said. “If you read the bill very carefully there are at least seven – maybe as many as nine – instances where it says, ‘The board shall promulgate a rule.’ That means we’re going to get more rules, not less rules. That’s a direction I don’t want to go. I don’t want more promulgated rules; I want fewer promulgated rules.”

Prudich said he might be OK if the rules are in the form of setting goals and standards, but he said school board members should embrace the accreditation provisions in the bill as wonderful. “We embrace accountability as long as we can control what we’re doing,” he said.

 

Changes could prompt more legal challenges.

One woman in the audience directed her question at Seufer, who is WVSBA’s legal counsel. She said many teachers and school service personnel are angry about some of the proposed changes in the reform bill. So she asked what the legal implications might be for school boards as a result of changes in personnel practices.

Seufer said that would depend on the shape the reforms take. He said it would be safe to predict that any legal activity is most likely to come from any changes to the personnel laws. “We’re upsetting the world as some people have come to know it, and that alone will inspire grievances and some challenges,” he said. “I predict we’ll have a sizable period of legal activity regardless of what shape this bill takes, unless nothing happens.”

The woman then suggested that if the Legislature does not pass the big changes contained in the education reform bill, maybe school boards could just seek waivers to implement changes on their own. But Seufer advised her that, under the law, the state board can waive policies, but only the Legislature can waive laws. Mohr added that the only part of the law that can’t be waived is personnel law.

Phares said the state school board grants many waivers for innovation and creativity. But he added, “I don’t think that the type of change that many of you are expecting is something that the state board could waive.”

“My question back to you and to this general body is this: Why should you have to request a waiver for doing something good for the kids in your county?” – Supt. Jim Phares

Phares then said, “My question back to you and to this general body is this: Why should you have to request a waiver for doing something good for the kids in your county?” Board members responded with applause.

Mason said that detractors to proposed changes in the school calendar would suggest seeking Innovation Zone waivers. But she said Innovation Zones were designed to come up with new ideas. So once a new idea is proven to work, she asked, why not open it up to the rest of the state?

Prudich added that implementing an Innovation Zone requires 85 percent agreement of staff members, which is just too hard to get sometimes.

 

Money is a separate matter.

Paul Chapman, interim associate dean of the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University, asked whether the reform bill would put more money into classrooms.  He said the further you get from the classroom the less influence you have on overall student achievement.

Mason called that an important point, but she said the reform bill doesn’t contemplate dollars. The budget bill is where that should happen, she said. The governor had to ask most agencies, including RESAs, to cut their budgets by 7.5 percent, she said, but he wants to be careful about budget changes.

“We need to do this thoughtfully, methodically and in partnership,” Mason said. “The governor does not want to go through and just start scratching out line-items. He realizes that the day-to-day management and operations of the state department fall under the board. So we’ve got to move together to make those changes carefully.”

Mohr added that the Legislature will deal with the budget after the completion of the 60-day regular session, when legislators will know what bills have passed and what bills have failed.

 

Members get ammunition for fight against reform critics.

Mike Queen, president of the Harrison County school board, said he was surprised that the state organizations representing teachers don’t see the tremendous opportunity that the bill gives their members to affect student achievement dramatically at the local level. He asked for panel members to arm conference participants with reasoning for the changes that they can take back to the unions.

Phares said the legislation requests that school boards involve teachers, other employees and parents in building the school calendar. He said faculty senates would be included in the interviewing process to help select the people they will work with. Seniority still would play a role in hiring decisions, he said. And contrary to what some people have alleged, the bill would not take away school employees’ paid holidays, he said.

Phares said many comments about the reform bill that have been posted on blogs are just blatantly inaccurate. “I think the local boards need to continue to take the high road,” he said. The bill was written with students first in mind, he said, and it might not go far enough, but it would make the process more efficient.

“We see this as a bill that can empower teachers, and I’m upset that that has been lost with all of the noise about holidays and the misinformation. Take that message back to your teachers.” – Hallie Mason

Mason offered a similar view. “We see this as a bill that can empower teachers, and I’m upset that that has been lost with all of the noise about holidays and the misinformation,” she said. “Take that message back to your teachers.”

Further, she said, “This new accreditation section takes the focus off of the test and will look at other factors of student achievement.”

Prudich expressed disappointment that only about 20 school board members went to the Capitol last Friday to visit legislators and offer their views on the education reform bill. He said such a small show of support could not compete with the 20 calls an hour that legislators were getting from teachers.

“You have to talk to your legislators,” Prudich said. “You have to tell them what you like and what you don’t like. If you don’t do it, you’re not the silent majority; you are nothing. They’re not going to hear you if you don’t communicate with the people that represent you under the golden dome.”

Prudich said he sends an email to all of his district’s delegates and senators, as well as members of the Senate Education Committee, every week. He said it is important for legislators to hear from school board members, because they are the closest elected officials to the people.

“I challenge each one of you to go home this weekend and send an email to everyone that represents you, and say what you like and what you don’t like about this legislation,” Prudich said. “And tell them you expect education reform in West Virginia. You’re not asking; you’re telling.”

When Kestner asked if WVSBA members were assertive enough, Prudich said they weren’t but there are 275 school board members across the state, and legislators will listen to what they have to say.

Parsons added, “One of the tactics that is used very often to defeat legislation is fear, and it works very well.” She said there has been a lot of misinformation about the education reform bill, and board members should focus on what good the bill would do. She said they should specifically explain to legislators what good the bill would do in their counties. Most of the people opposed to the bill have not read the legislation, Parson said.

 

 

By Jim Wallace
           
The House Education Committee approved three bills this week.

One bill the committee approved was House Bill 2360, which is about how local share funds for school districts are determined. It would remove provisions the Legislature approved in 2007 and set to go into effect in the next fiscal year that essentially would have punished school districts if the assessors in their counties would value taxable property too low.

The bill is a result of work legislators did over the last several months during their monthly interim meetings. As the House Education Committee considered the bill this week, Patti Hamilton, executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties, told members that county assessors supported it, because the 2007 bill was flawed.

“It’s flawed in many ways. There is not an assessor in the state that wants to see a school board punished for an action of theirs.” – Patti Hamilton

“It’s flawed in many ways,” she said. “There is not an assessor in the state that wants to see a school board punished for an action of theirs.”

Three smaller bills get through Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee devoted most of its attention this week to Senate Bill 359, the big education reform legislation, but it also approved three other bills.

One was Senate Bill 404, which would clarify that a child who is physically healthy and presumed safe is a neglected child if he or she is habitually absent from school without good cause. The bill includes an exemption for parents whose children receive home instruction. The bill has gone to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

Senate Bill 391 would transfer the Division of Early Care and Education and the Head Start State Collaborative from the Bureau of Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Resources to the Department of Education and the Arts. It would be effective July 1, 2013. The Senate Government Organization Committee also will look at the bill before it can go to the full Senate.

Senate Bill 336 would establish protocols and protections to help limit injuries to youth athletes and students and improve the treatment of them. In particular, the bill would emphasize the protocols for removal and return to play following concussions in interscholastic sports regulated by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission. It also would clarify that volunteers, including physicians, would have coverage by the Board of Risk and Insurance Management.

The bill goes next to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, is a freshman legislator who was not involved in the legislative interim meetings. So he wanted to know why the assessors could not simply correct assessments when they are wrong.

“The main answer is it takes time,” Hamilton replied. “In other words, it’s not an overnight correction. A county can be in compliance and rather suddenly fall out of compliance for various reasons.”

Unfortunately, she said, the 2007 law provides no time to correct the problem and would punish the school board. Joe Panetta, assistant state superintendent in the Division of Student Support Services, added that property sometimes is sold for much higher than it is appraised, which can throw assessors’ figures out of compliance.

A fiscal note from the Education Department shows passage of the bill could save almost $5.5 a year for school districts.

With the Education Committee’s approval, House Bill 2360 now goes to the House Finance Committee.

 

Bill would help at-risk students.

The other bill the Education Committee approved was House Bill 2861, which would remove a deterrent that prevents some public schools from assisting at-risk students from enrolling in certain alternative learning programs that could prepare them for successful transitions back into the public schools. The bill would set forth characteristics of a discouraged and defeated learner, and al1ows county superintendents to approve the continued enrollment of such students in public schools while they are enrolled in the alternative programs. The bill also would set certain conditions that alternative programs must meet.

Delegate Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia, became the lead sponsor of the bill after visiting Chestnut Mountain Ranch, a Christian school and home for at-risk boys in Morgantown, that has such a program.

Delegate Linda Sumner, D-Raleigh, said she like a requirement for family involvement is required, but she wonder what would happen if a family would renege on its obligations. Dave Mohr, an attorney for the committee, said the family would be expected to come to the school periodically and have sit-down dinners. If the parents have substance abuse issues, they must have those under control before a child would be accepted into the program, he said. But he wasn’t sure what would happen if the family would not follow through on its obligations.

Pasdon said one reason why school districts would be more likely to let their students participate in such a program is that the bill would allow for dual enrollment, so the school systems would continue to receive the same amount of funding even while such students are away. She said such dual enrollment generally would not last longer than 24 months.

Delegate Larry Williams, D-Preston, pointed out that dual enrollment already is permitted with Mountaineer Challenge Academy. He said it’s beneficial for some students and there is no deterrent for school districts to let it happen.

Pasdon added, “This is completely not-for-profit. There are no state dollars or funding that accrues to it. It is religious based.”

Because the bill would not cost the state anything, the House waived its second reference to the House Finance Committee.

 

One more gets through at week’s end.

Today, the House Education Committee approved House Bill 2827. As introduced, the bill’s main purpose is to establish that schools should have one counselor for every 350 students. It also would allow county school boards to set caseloads from counselors so they are equally distributed at each academic level within a county.

But the revised version the committee brought out on Thursday and approved today would add other provisions. It would language into law requiring that 90 percent of counselors’ time should be spent with students and no more than 10 percent should be spent on administrative tasks. It also would establish that schools should have one nurse for every 1,500 students and provide state reimbursement to encourage counties to use juvenile probation officers. Another section of the bill would allow the School Building Authority to pay for computers and related technology, as well as play areas.

Another provision of the bill would encourage healthy lifestyles programs like one implemented in the Mingo County school system. The committee rejected an amendment from Delegate Butler that would have removed that provision. Other members of the committee said health problems, such as obesity, are so bad in West Virginia that healthy lifestyles programs should be encouraged as much as possible.

House Bill 2827 now goes to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.

 

 

By Jim Wallace

West Virginia officials are considering making greater use of two measurement tools that could help deal with problems in the education system, the health care system and the corrections system.

One the state already is using is called West Virginia CANS, which stands for Children and Adolescent Needs and Strengths. It is designed to paint a broad picture of what is going on in an at-risk child’s life and can help judges decide what to do in cases involving troubled children.

The Senate Select Committee on Children and Poverty learned this week about another measurement tool that could be useful, especially if it is paired with West Virginia CANS. The second tool is called ACE, which stands for Adverse Childhood Experience. Kathy Szafran, president and chief executive officer of Crittenton Services in Wheeling, told the committee that ACE can evaluate a child’s experience to predict what will happen later with that child in terms of health and behavior as an adult. Crittenton provides residential treatment for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, who are pregnant or parenting, or who have entered the juvenile justice system as youth offenders.

Szafran said ACE was developed in the 1990s by a physician at an obesity clinic in San Diego. He had noticed a trend among people who had trouble avoiding gaining weight back after losing it. Many of them had had adverse childhood experiences. So he developed a 10-item questionnaire to explore their medical-social history and gathered data from 17,000 people.

What that doctor found, Szafran said, was that the more trauma someone had early in life the more likelihood that person would have long-term health ailments. She said individuals with scores of six or more use health care services more as adults, and they tend to have more complicated health care issues.

Crittenton Services had clients in 18 states take the ACE questionnaire, and Szafran found the results from about 250 West Virginia participants to be surprising. She said 51 percent of them were female and most were older than age 21. The results were:

  • 53 percent had had emotional or psychological abuse;
  • 42 percent had had physical abuse;
  • 26 percent had had sexual abuse;
  • 36 percent of their caregivers had been incarcerated;
  • 46 had been treated violently by their mothers;
  • 56 percent had mental illness;
  • 72 percent had been raised in a home by just one family member; and
  • 55 percent had had substance abuse problems.

“For West Virginia, this was pretty outstanding data,” Szafran said. In West Virginia, 93 percent of those tested had one or more ACE scores, 65 percent scored four or more and 44 had six or more, she said.

“Basically, what we’re looking at is the early childhood experiences do affect a person’s health and well-being, and child well-being is crucial to long-term expectations and prosperity of an individual.” – Kathy Szafran

“Basically, what we’re looking at is the early childhood experiences do affect a person’s health and well-being, and child well-being is crucial to long-term expectations and prosperity of an individual,” Szafran said.

Many states have adopted the ACE test into their early periodic childhood screening, but it’s new to West Virginia, she said, adding that she hopes West Virginia will embrace it.

“When you look at the findings, there is a significant increase in alcoholism, obesity, adolescent pregnancy, smoking, liver disease, heart disease the more traumatic the situation,” Szafran said. When such troubled individuals do not receive intervention, they can have difficult lives with large costs to society, she said.

“So if you’re looking at controlling health care costs, if you’re looking at working on childhood obesity, if you’re improving the education system, all these issues really can be summarized in how you keep these scores down for children,” Szafran said.

 

Woman describes her problems.

The committee also heard from Breauna Heater, who was born and raised in Upshur County but had a troubled childhood and was sent to Crittenton after she became pregnant at age 14. She said she was 10 when her father showed her how to make methamphetamine. He took her out of school and home-schooled her, so she could be at home with him. At 14, when she got pregnant, she was on probation at the time for fighting and was put into the juvenile justice system.

“I was treated like a criminal,” Heater said. When she was sent to a shelter, authorities found out I had been impregnated by a 22-year-old man, so she was sent to Crittenton in Wheeling. There, she let her therapist know all that she had endured. She said Crittenton helped her find her way, and learn how to be a good parent to her daughter.

“I’ve come a long way, but I still have struggles daily,” Heater said. “I do endure something every day from what happened in my past. I wasn’t really raised as a child. I never attended high school. I was really, like I said, treated like a criminal, but I was really just a young girl lost. I didn’t know really what to do. I determined to keep my daughter, and if it wasn’t for Crittenton, I would not have no mother experience.”

Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley and chairman of the committee, said Heater’s testimony helped to put a face on facts and figures.

Szafran said what Breauna needed was not detention but treatment. She said ACE and CANS can provide officials with the information they need for quick and appropriate placement, so children don’t end up where they shouldn’t be. She suggested that West Virginia should use those tools consistently, gather the data and have West Virginia University or a similar institution analyze the data to provide information on where workforce deficits are and where services are needed. She said such information would be critical for policymakers like legislators.

“I think we all recognize that we have huge problems in West Virginia with child well-being, and we do need to look at the juvenile justice system, we need to look at the education system, but we have to begin basically with what our children are presenting. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” – Kathy Szafran

“I think we all recognize that we have huge problems in West Virginia with child well-being, and we do need to look at the juvenile justice system, we need to look at the education system, but we have to begin basically with what our children are presenting,” Szafran said. “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

Unger said he had spoken Rocco Fucillo, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources about the matter. He described Fucillo as very passionate about it, particularly identifying children from birth to eight years old and doing scientific evaluation of their needs.

“It’s not necessarily coming and asking for additional programs but realigning what they’re doing to meet those needs,” Unger said.  

Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, asked whether the state sometimes goes too far in trying to reunite children with their families. Szafran indicated that was a difficult issue.

“Children who are removed from the most toxic environments, even if their rights are permanently surrendered, by the time they are 18 and 19 and are free of the state’s custody, frequently try to reunite with their parents,” she said. “Nationally, the trend is to reunify. I think the key is: What are we doing to help the families? I do think there are situations where they cannot be reunified.”

Barnes suggested that the greatest chance of recidivism is when troubled juveniles are reunited with their families. Szafran said one researcher has found that what works for rehabilitating women is not necessarily what works for men. She said women frequently get engaged in criminal activity when they want to meet the needs of the men in their lives. The researcher has developed gender-responsive treatment, she said.

 

Editor’s Note – Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for theCharleston Daily Mail, former news director of West Virginia Public Radio and former news director of WWVA/WOVK radio in Wheeling. He now works for TSG Consulting, a public relations and governmental affairs company with offices in Charleston and Beckley. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University. Wallace is the author of the 2012 book,A History of the West Virginia Capitol: The House of State.

 

Media Report for Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tomblin Education Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201303140040

Education Hiring Takes Center Stage During Education Reform Debate
http://www.statejournal.com/story/21640986/education-hiring-takes-center-stage-during-education-reform-debate

Teachers Unions Protest W. Va. School Board’s New Hire
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201303130160

Board of Education Creates New Role
http://www.dailymail.com/News/Education/201303130178

The Conversation is about W. Va. Students
http://www.dailymail.com/Opinion/Editorials/201303130233

Governor Says Education Bill “Good for Children”
http://wvmetronews.com/governor-says-education-bill-good-for-children/

Reform Bill May Simplify Teacher Hiring Process
http://www.dailymail.com/News/statehouse/201303130293

Hoppy Kercheval: There’s No Free Lunch
http://wvmetronews.com/theres-no-free-lunch/

Volunteers Combat Isolation, Poverty
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201303130225

Poverty Pilot Program Unfunded, Even as Legislators Seek to Aid Poor
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201303130212

Cuts Could Hurt vista, AmeriCorps
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201303130248

Lewis D’Antoni Tips off State Tournament
http://wvmetronews.com/lewis-dantoni-tips-off-state-tournament/

McDowell School Employees to Vote on Improvement Plan
http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=29104

North Students Get “a lot out of’ Manchin’s Visit
http://timeswv.com/local/x702801347/North-students-get-a-lot-out-of-Manchin-s-visit

Upshur BOE Looks at School Calendar
http://www.theintermountain.com/page/content.detail/id/559929/Upshur-BOE-looks-at-school-calendar.html?nav=5014

Wood BOE Considering Senior Citizen Discounts
http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/571833/Wood-BOE-considering-senior-citizen-discounts.html?nav=5061

PlastiVan Learning Program Coming to Area
http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/571826/PlastiVan-learning-program-coming-to-area.html?nav=5056

MHS and PCHS to Receive Accreditation
http://www.wetzelchronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/512408/MHS-And-PCHS-To-Receive-Accreditation.html?nav=5001