EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSEDUCATION DEBATE
from Eyewitness News Online
Unions Outline Their Objections To Governor's Reform Plan
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Matt Durrett, Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Mar. 6, 2013 6:14 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 7, 2013 8:02 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The head of the West Virginia Education Association said he had hoped Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education bill would center around how to improve education, but "in many areas that fell short."
WVEA President Dale Lee said Tomblin's education bill would push the state back into an age where nepotism and cronyism dictate who gets hired and who gets fired. One facet of Tomblin's plan would lessen the importance of seniority when considering personnel moves and that is something Lee and his counterpart at the West Virginia Federation of Teachers said should not happen.
"Teachers across the state are the first to tell you we need to make changes," Lee said. "No teacher that I've ever been in their classroom is ever completely satisfied with that they do."
Tomblin's move comes in the wake of an education audit which heavily criticized the way West Virginia teaches its children.
In addition to his legislative proposal, Tomblin said he's issuing executive orders in the areas of workforce and vocational school training for middle schools and to study early childhood education. Tomblin wants every county to offer schooling for 4-year-olds.
"Our children should be able to read at grade level by grade three," Tomblin said. "Research has shown that if they're not able to read at that level by grade three they're going to continue to be behind throughout their educational career."
The third prong of Tomblin's strategy is to work with the state Board of Education to implement policy changes. The board's president said that's a way to be flexible and ensure local input and control.
"If there's a problem at the board level, then we can assign a committee and in a couple of months we can make a change; we can enact it and move on," Wade Linger, president of the West Virginia Board of Education, said.
Other elements of Tomblin's plan include forgiving teachers' college loans, paying for their national certification and ensuring children spend 180 days in the classroom.
"We want to see a better outcome for our students," Tomblin said. "That's the goal that we've got to keep in mind. It's all about our kids."
The Senate Education Committee is expected to debate the measure this week.
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