Opinion

January 25, 2019 - Volume 39 Issue 3

Commentary

  Opinion

The reason West Virginia’s education rankings remain low in so many measures became clear once again this week, when the education establishment dropped off a letter to every lawmaker in the West Virginia Legislature.

The letter said — not literally, but in effect — “Just give us more money for teacher pay raises and dump millions more dollars into our health insurance program, but don’t ask us to make any changes that might actually improve educational outcomes because we are comfortable with our staid, outdated, non-responsive, bureaucratic, top-down public education system.”

The letter is in response to plans by Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, who indicated that education improvement proposals like public charter schools and education savings accounts might be rolled into a single comprehensive bill that also includes the promised 5 percent pay raise and $150 million in additional funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency for school personnel, the Gazette-Mail‘s Ryan Quinn reported Tuesday.

But before the bill is even introduced, the education establishment is already expressing united opposition to any change in the way education is delivered in West Virginia while, of course, glowingly supporting pay raises, additional funding to PEIA and banking sick days.

“We believe unrelated items should be voted on separately and they should pass or fail based on their own merits,” the letter from the status quo coalition states.

Unrelated items? Give parents, students, teachers and taxpayers a break! Starting a journey down new paths to improve education is certainly related.

The letter is signed by leaders of the state American Federation of Teachers, the WV Education Association, the Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals, the Association of School Administrators, the School Service Personnel Association and the Association of Secondary School Principals.

Are these leaders so in a rut they oppose anything new despite the numerous measures showing West Virginia severely underpeforms in educational outcomes compared to other states?

The staid education establishment is not doing the teachers and lower-level administrators — nor the students, parents and employers of West Virginia — any favors by favoring the status quo.

Understand, there are many great teachers, great schools and great administrators in West Virginia. They are excelling at teaching many of the state’s kids and sending them off into the world as prepared as they can be. But those teachers and schools are doing so despite the bureaucratic educational system that falls below satisfactory performance in so many measures, not because of the system.

 

Editor’s Note: This Charleston Daily Mail editorial appeared Jan. 22 as was published on the Daily Mail Editorial Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Used by permission.