West Virginia lawmakers are ready to get to work on fixing the state’s education system.

“Throughout these last four or five months, every time we’ve gone everywhere and talking to my colleagues, education has been brought up as the No. 1 thing,” said Senate Education Committee chairman Bob Plymale. “I think we’re ready.”

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin outlined his plan to improve the education system last week in his State of the State address, and now it’s time to implement that plan. Plymale said improving kids’ reading skills earlier in life is a big goal.

“Research tells us if you can’t read at the third-grade level in the third grade, we lose you exponentially through the system,” said Plymale.

Plymale said the career and technology issues facing middle school students are crucial as well.

Tomblin proposed a plan through the Prep For Tomorrow Program to build legislation requiring every vocational school to have at least one regional program.

“We have to put more of a focus on vocational education,” said House Education Committee vice chairman Josh Stowers. “The workforce demands it, our business leaders demand it and our economy demands.”

Stowers is excited to see more in regard to Tomblin’s plan for expanding the 4-year-old kindergarten program to all counties, thereby luring more kids into preschool.

“To me that is one of the most critical things we can do, is get these kids a solid foundation in education,” said Stowers. “Make sure kids, regardless of what county they’re in, are able to get the right start that they need.”

But education reform doesn’t just involve the students, it also involves the teachers, and Stowers agreed with Tomblin’s assertion that there is too much emphasis on seniority when it comes to hiring teachers.

“We shouldn’t discount seniority, because I believe there is merit into what seniority brings to the table. However, it shouldn’t be the only thing,” said Stowers.

Lawmakers will be busy considering multiple education reform proposals from Tomblin as the session continues. Plymale said he believes they are compelled to make improvements.

“We’ve had the audit for a year and a half and obviously we need to increase student achievement,” said Plymale. “I think he’s laid a good blueprint out to where we can move forward.”

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Comments

  • Linda

    I think you need to do some more research on hiring. There are 7 critieria that are used to hire teachers. First and foremost they have to be qualified to teach in their field. Seniority only matters if there are more than one qualfied teacher for the same job. It still isn't the only reason. Do your research before you speak. Pay a decent salary and you will get qualified teachers.

  • ed

    Seniority sounds like a great topic to address, but until qualified teachers are in every class room across the state the legislature should focus on attracting qualified teachers to our school system.

  • Paul

    The bunch in Charleston is a big joke starting with the governor down to every department. Just look how Manchin operated while the governor and Tomblin is justify it now. However, who's to blame? We are for re-electing these outstanding individuals!

  • JimJim

    Check with me in 5 years, nothing will change. The problem is not the teachers, they are doing what they are told to do.

  • Black&White

    Senate Education Committee Chairman Bob Plymale. “I think we’re ready.”

    Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. "Now it’s time to implement that plan."

    Yes, WVDE, you have had the audit for a year and a half and still are trying to consider the recommendations.

    Maybe we should have a checklist of items that the WVDE and the WV Legislature too see what they actually come up with.

    The audit and recommendations from Public Works, LLC http://www.governor.wv.gov/initiatives/satf/Documents/WVDE%20Report%20Final.pdf

    The ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, from the audit was, the WVDE in Charleston was too top heavy in administration and needed less directors and more responsibilities on their subordniates. Let us see if that will change, since it has not even came up again in discussion.

    In August of 2012, the WVDE hired former state Department of Education staff member Donna Peduto to help the board draft its response to the audit. Since Aug. 13, Peduto has been paid $350 a day, according to the Department of Education - Charleston Gazzette

    Hopefully, the WVDE and the Legislature will look at the top three expenditures and recommend to organize and right-size the West Virginia Department of Education, implement efficiencies in school building capital projects and management, and utilize cooperative and pooled purchasing plan among regional counties.

    This is not a quick fix and hopefully the people of WV understand this but hopefully Charleston gets this right. Like they said, for the kids sake.