The State Department of Education held eight public forums across the state this spring. The goal was to get input from teachers, parents, students, and others. The report card now lists the top-three priorities as raising teacher and staff pay, providing more counselors and emphasis on mental health for students, and giving schools more flexibility in the classroom.
“Absolutely and proud to make those judgments because we are the education experts in this state. We know what will improve education. So we took the ideas that came to us from the forums and from the surveys,” said Dr. Steve Paine, WV Superintendent of Schools.
But Republican legislative leaders are concerned that only 1,600 West Virginians participated in the forums.
“To put a lot of credence around a very small sample size that’s not scientifically, it’s just who shows up for these events. It would probably be a mistake to put too much emphasis on that,” said State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, (R-Jackson).
Senator Carmichael promises that charter schools and education savings accounts will be discussed in an upcoming special session, even though they did not get a lot of support in the state survey.
“I think it reflects exactly what we were hearing in the forums. ESAs and charter schools aren’t important to people. Mental health and adding pay to our teachers and service personnel is the important things we heard in the forums,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.
17,000 West Virginians completed online education reform surveys.
The state school superintendent says he hopes the legislature takes this report seriously, even though lawmakers are under no obligation to abide by it.