Governor Earl Ray Tomblin says he’s pleased with the pace his Education Reform bill is taking in the Senate. The state’s two teachers unions aren’t so happy.

The governor says the aim of the bill is to give students the best possible education.

“That’s the goal. That’s what we’ve got to keep in mind,” Tomblin stressed Wednesday at the capitol. “The whole education [bill] is about our children and to make sure they get the kind of education they need to be prepared for today and tomorrow’s workforce.”

Judy Hale, the president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, says the bill should be all about what’s best for kids, but it’s not.

“We do not feel that this is true education reform,” Hale said.

Where the two sides differ on the bill basically comes down to how teachers are hired and a top heavy education system that pays administrators big salaries.

Hale says a perfect example took place at the state Board of Education meeting Tuesday morning where members of the AFT and West Virginia Education Association were protesting the bill. On the agenda was hiring a West Virginia Board of Education Director of Operations, a brand new position.

“They’re going to add to that top heaviness by hiring an individual that will work, as I understand, just for the state board of education members, at 104-thousansd dollars a year,” Hale said.

The average salary for a West Virginia teacher is $44,000.

Gov. Tomblin says his office and the Legislature have been reaching out to the unions, making sure they’re kept up to date on the latest with the bill and even getting their suggestions.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve had lots of meetings, lots of discussions, lots of give and take,” Tomblin said.

The unions say Tomblin obviously isn’t listening enough because both unions oppose the new teacher hiring practices.

The bill proposes using outside groups to fill vacant critical need teaching jobs in the Mountain State. The bill no longer specifically mentions Teach for America. It instead would put the state Board of Education in charge of certifying groups like Teach for America to fill vacancies.

Hale says that makes no sense because just last year the Legislature approved a program called Teacher in Residence, where education majors here in West Virginia can get a job in the classroom while finishing off their student teaching.

Hale questions, “Why are we not pushing this home-grown, fully certified, committed to the community teacher from West Virginia and instead bringing in people from out of state who are not certified in field, who are not certified as teachers?”

The governor’s answer is simple.

“The only time we would bring in teachers from elsewhere would be when we’ve exhausted all means within the state to find a certified teacher to be in the classroom.,” Tomblin said.

The education reform bill passed the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate Finance Committee and then to the Senate floor. If it passes, it will move on to the House.

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Comments

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  • Name (required)

    Following the ex-governor/now firearms are icky senator's example of correcting WVU graduate diploma shortfalls, fix the teacher certification shortfall by handing out certificates to family members.

    For more simple solutions to all of WV's complex issues, just vote democRat!

  • Teaching

    Other than the early education mandate, what's good for kids in this bill? NOTHING!

    How can it be education reform if it is obvious that it has a negative effect on WV 's children?

  • Joe

    Great comments by all.

    Quick comment from someone who is not an educator or an expert in the education process in WV.

    Would a revised payscale system be a fair compromise to resolve this situation?

    Specifically, should math/science/physics teachers at the middle and high school levels have a separate pay scale to attract qualified instructors in these areas? I would also add that given the new emphasis on vocational education, should shop and technical instructors also have a separate payscale set up?

    Take care all,

    Joe

  • stophating

    I'm just waiting for the Dept. of Education and the state board to both simultaneously established permanent office dedicated to cutting personnel, and each employing 30 people that make 5 times the average teacher salary.

  • NorthernWVman

    $44,000/year is not a bad salary given they have a couple months off in the summer. Far better than the average correctional officer, CPS worker, or DOH crew member.

    • Daronlif

      In comparison, a teacher has much more professional (and continual) training than any DOH crew member. Oftentimes, that's money spent out of the pockets of teachers to better prepare students. Don't you think that a group of people who are actively molding the children who are going to be running this state deserve at least the benefit of the doubt? Teacher pay in WV is 49th in the country. It's a wonder anyone takes the job.

    • WVGurl

      If I'm not mistaken, most people who begin teaching in WV make about $32,000 or $35,000 in the beginning.

      I would prefer to see fewer big wigs (and their ridiculously big paychecks) so that our teachers can be paid more. Many times, teachers have to purchase supplies with their own money and are never reimbursed. The reason is the budget, but funny enough, the big wigs in Charleston never have their pay cut, and I bet $10 that if they travel or do anything outside of the office, they are reimbursed.

      Teachers deal with things that the average correctional officer or DOH crew member never do. Beyond the curriculum and focus on standardized tests, they are the soldiers on the ground when it comes to our children's education. They see firsthand students who have no support at home. They see abusive situations, or circumstances where a student has no food at home, no suitable shoes (holes in shoes), and all kinds of things. Sometimes, a teacher is the only person who is positive and supportive for a child.

  • docbegone

    Seems like the unions are possessed with hiring procedures and seniority. What a greedy and self serving bunch of hypocrites. Stand firm Governor and improve education in spite of union protests.

  • a concerned educator

    Maybe I'm just not seeing it, but I just don't understand how this bill gives "students the best education possible"?

  • GSCSBB1

    Did you know????? That the majority of what the Governors bill does actually takes away what teachers went on strike for back in the late 70's and early 80's. Gee I wonder what will happen if you pass the bill.

  • Eddie

    Tomblin must have a crony or family member that needs a job!

  • Jason

    Real reform we be to downsize the WVDE and all the fat-cat bureaucracy the exists within it. The heck with 5% cuts. It should be more like 50%. We need teachers; we don't need high priced bureaucrats.

  • Black&White

    The WVDE paid, what $750,000, for a consulting group to tell them that they are to top heavy in Charleston. Correct me if I'm wrong but was it not reported that the WVDE had 50 or so supervising/director positions compared to the state of Colorado which has only 12 supervisors/department heads. In addition, the aduit found that county education administrations were top heavy also. BUT THEY CONTINUE TO IGNORE THE FACT.
    Just ask your local house or senate representitive if they would like your vote next time. Good god, people of WV, make a stand for once in your life. Maybe I shouldn't of voted for Tomblin. Ridiculious, Mr. Tomblin, you changed nothing.

  • thornton

    "The unions say Tomblin obviously isn’t listening enough because both unions oppose the new teacher hiring practices."....what an attitude and what a sense of superiority and entitlement!

    Maybe the Unions will be heard if they stamp their feet, roll on the floor or hold their breathe untill they turn blue .....works for some spoiled kids and dumb parents.
    Might work for spoiled union folks and dumb legislators.

  • Greg

    Lets face it. All these "connected" people will continue to pull these high salaries down and not be touched, regardless of what Earl Ray s audit said. His reforms will take us back thirty years. He seriously needs some input from people who actually work in education. How do our "leaders" expect to fix a problem they know little about? They don't. Think about it!

  • Daronlif

    I'd like to hear the Governor clearly state how this benefits students and then produce the data to back his claim up. As of yet, none of that has appeared. What is clear is that the teacher's organizations do have some legitimate complaints that the Governor is not listening to.

    • TC

      You are an idiot! Legitmate complaints?? Please!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Daronlif

        I see you calling me an idiot but I don't see you providing any information to further your argument.

    • GSCSBB1

      yeah really!!!! That's what we get for having a governor with two first names. Go Billy Bob Go!!!!

    • frank

      The governor has been ill advised by someone, perhaps the newly "elected" Phares w/WVDE. We need REAL educators involved, nor just those who could not "handle" being in the trenches an floated on up the administrative ladder!