Phares speech

It may not have been formally called such, but state School Superintendent Jim Phares essentially gave a State of Education Address to the House and Senate education committees Tuesday on the eve of the 60-day regular legislative session.

With education reform expected to be one of the major topics during the session, Phares told lawmakers he won’t “sugarcoat” the problems. He shared some unflattering numbers from the 2011 national assessment tests.

“Grade 4 mathematics, West Virginia was 45th in the nation. In Grade 4 reading, West Virginia was 43rd in the nation. In 2011, Grade 8 mathematics and reading, West Virginia was 47th in the nation,” Phares said.

“We have a myriad of statutes and policies that are embedded throughout our educational structures in West Virginia and they’re barriers for educators to be able to do their jobs.” — Jim Phares

The superintendent told lawmakers he has been traveling the state for the past month meeting with county school boards and hearing from teachers and principals. Phares said they know change is needed, but emphasized it’s unfair to place all the blame on teachers for underachievement issues.

“It’s time for all of us to stop beating them down,” he said. “It’s time for all of us to start lifting them up.”

Phares said teachers want to teach and principals want to lead but bureaucracy has held many of them back.

“We have a myriad of statutes and policies that are embedded throughout our educational structures in West Virginia and they’re barriers for educators to be able to do their jobs as we expect them to do. (Educators) tell us this each day,” Phares said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to lay out several educational reforms during his State of the State Address on Wednesday night. Lawmakers will have those and others to consider. Superintendent Phares urged the delegates and senators to “channel the debate” while being “both wise and courageous.”

“We must do better,” Phares said.


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  • Delmar

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  • Ron S

    Just another statement of why we need help...But I don't think the Superintendent will do anything. Look at past history.

  • JimJim

    Shadow, "flee crime and it is pretty low in WV except for child molestation." How about just flee the state, Take a look, WV ranks 3rd in people leaving.
    Also, "Redneck." I think it is a proud symbol of a proud people." Sorry, I'm on the outside looking in, you don't get to make the call. You be what you want, but the people outside will look in and make the call.

    • Shadow

      Fleeing, yes, but not because of crime. It is jobs and advancement. As to Redneck, I can not be held responsible for the ignorance of others in the terminology. I still don't think you know where it came from.... Hint. Look up the mine wars.

    • NorthernWVman

      Ok so now an apparent liberal is telling someone else how to live. How ironic. I thought you people were supposed to be for tolerance and respect for others. Oh yea that is just as long as you agree with them.

  • Shadow

    I have a friend who taught First Grade and I believe she was a great teacher and loved her children. However, one of her tasks was to check the hair of each child for lice. That is the duty of the parents and the school nurse, not the teacher. My thought is that some administrator got an "Attaboy" for pushing that task on to her. How many other nitpicking tasks are teachers required to do in their tour of duty that teaches nothing? I don't know but I am sure their are many. Another thing, has anyone looked at the County Calendar to see how many school days are set aside for teachers meetings? No one gets taught on those days but they give some administrator ammunition to keep their job at the expense of the child.

  • JimJim

    The answer is so simple. Fire all the bad teachers and principals. Then hired outstanding teachers to replace them. I know several from surrounding states that would be happy to take a $20-$30,000 pay cut to come teach in beautiful West Virginia. With your redneck gun culture nobody is coming. Sorry, you better learn to live with what you have.

    • Shadow

      You obviously don't know your WV History as you degrade the term "Redneck." I think it is a proud symbol of a proud people. As to your thoughts of gun control, I believe people flee crime and it is pretty low in WV except for child molestation.

    • NorthernWVman

      Not sure why you would degrade our great state. Not that I really care what you think. But I think I would reserve your comments to your own home state whichever that may be? State of Confusion or State of Paronia

  • mark

    Once again we hear criticisms from non-teachers about teachers. You need to give teaching a try-and not just in some ideal, high-income setting for a short time. I mean, get right into the mix in some of our most challenging communities and counties. Our teachers are waging war against parental apathy and often outright disrespect and hostility. They should be given a medal for the scores they are getting on WESTEST. And yes, a RAISE. Teachers do not pretend to tell others how to do their jobs, but you do not have a problem telling us how to do ours.

    • TiredInTucker


    • NorthernWVman

      Maybe the fact that the median income for teaching in WV is approximately $44,000/year which is by far greater than the majority of other state positions in comparable and in many many cases far more dangerous than a teacher. Oh the danger of parental apathy! Come on the average for a correctional officer in the state maximum security prisons is approximatley $31,00/YEAR. So quit your belly aching about not making enough money. I am for one tired of hearing the old adage.

  • JimJim

    WOW, Same old thing!

  • Matt

    My wife and I homeschool our children. We do not spend a ton of money on books, but our children have excelled and our daughter has been promoted to a higher grade and our son has taken his Pre GED test and has scored very high. He plans on taking the GED test this month. Again he will basically finish his schooling a year early. I feel that children DO NOT get taught the basics. They have to have the basics before you can teach them Algebra, Geometry, trig, etc. as well as the higher science classes. Also my wife is not a UNION teacher. Good luck to you who have children in public school.

  • TBone Porterhouse

    Students rank 43rd-47th, yet the WVTF and WVEA have their collective hands out for more teacher raises AGAIN this year????
    The GREED of these teachers unions is unbelievable.
    Once WV rids itself and its education system of the progressive liberal agenda, which has been a miserable failure, improvements will follow.
    You show me a government agency that is married to the liberal progressive agenda, and I'll show you a colossal failure.
    1. HUD
    2. DHHR
    3. WV and US Dept. of Education
    4. WV and federal Dept. of Corrections
    5. USPS
    6. State and federal tax codes
    7. US EPA
    8. NOAA
    9. etc., etc., etc.

  • Miranda

    I think teachers should stop being required to teach the assessment tests that children take each year and actually be able to just focus on teaching the actual subject. I also think that the legislature should reinstate the Imagination Library Program. How can you stress Education but yet you take away a program that provides books (to promote reading) to thousands of children in the state every month. I think this state has a lot of serious issues when it comes to education but we can never seem to fix them.

  • WV Patriot

    Tutoring is a critical element if we want to see our students excel. There is no real formal process in place. Just some students volunteering after school. Teachers don't feel it is the place. In some cases, the teachers are coaches and are focusing on those areas after school. Trust me, last year my son begged his chemistry teacher for after school help and he stated " I am too busy as I am also the track coach". I would have fired him on the spot in the corporate world. But hey, we can't hold them accountable. Everybody protects them. The legislators, the union, the principals, the supt's and so on. So how do we get rid of bad teachers? We can't and never will. So good luck with your reform Mr. Phares. I'm sure you will be passing the buck.

    • lopez

      Is it written in the teacher's contract that they are required to stay after school without compensation at the request of a student? Are you really saying a teacher that can't stay because of another job or responsibilities with their own kids is grounds for termination?

  • LikeItIs

    Well, with pathetic stats like that, there's only one thing we can do . . .

    give the teachers more money!

  • joe v

    This is such a sad report, I have lived here for 70 years and it breaks my heart to see these numbers.
    If their are policies and regulations in the way Tell us what they are..we cannot talk to law makers and BOE members if we aren't informed . .
    If our elected officials don't have the will to do something let the people know what has to done..I think we can make it happen.

    We are so tired of hearing we know what to do but can't get it done. LETS DO SOMETHING