Negotiations are continuing on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education reform bill as the two teachers unions try to get the bill more to their liking before a final vote in the state Senate.

The bill was up for third reading, passage, on Friday but negotiations, which took place Thursday night, continued in the morning hours. Senate Education Committee Chair Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, was absent from the morning floor session.

Senators agreed to push back discussion on the bill until an afternoon session but later met to put a vote on hold until next week, possibly as early as Monday.

Union groups aren’t happy with the provisions in the bill that would get rid of current teacher hiring practices. They are also concerned about adjustments in the school calendar.

Several senators voted against the bill during voice votes in the education and finance committees.

The Senate floor session is scheduled for Monday morning at 11 o’clock.

 

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Comments

  • Shadow

    The Best Teacher I had in High School taught Physics and I, and all his students, learned a lot. You sound quite like him. Thank You.

  • New System Teacher

    Well I had read all of the comments posted and see that some of you have a grasp on the problems and shortcomings in our educational system. Well I am a teacher and have been for 19 years and currently teach high level science classes. I deal with many problems in my classroom including truancy and have even taught a freshman who never passed an eighth grade course before being promoted to the ninth grade.
    The students are tested in our school during the entire school year. We lose an average of 20-30 school days a year testing these kids. When I say tested I mean by the state and not the teachers-we have students who score a 25 or higher on the ACT test for college but score novice on the Westest. Why? Well it not because they cannot do the work but they do not care about the Westest . What do they get for doing well? Nothing! What happens to them if they perform poorly? Nothing! It is a reward system now days for our students and the test means nothing to them because by failing it nothing will happen and they will still be able to get a job or go to college. Until we tie it to course work credit (end of the course tests-fail test fail course) or have test like Ohio and other states in which if students have to pass graduation requirement tests to walk across the stage
    As for the parents, we just had our 2nd parent-teacher conference of the year and I had 8 parents of the 79 students that I teach show up and none of them were here for the students who are doing poorly in my class. Parents have to start caring about their son/daughter’s education and take an active role but most do not have the time or really care about their child’s education because some of them never graduated high school or their lives are in such disarray that they do not have the time.
    As for some teachers needing to be replaced-I agree. Some of the old teachers need to be replaced because it is very hard for them to keep up with what is being required of them but we have no incentive for them to retire. They have taken away their benefits and cut their retirement benefits until some cannot afford to retire. Well let me tell you my dilemma, I am what you call the new retirement system which is not a good system because when I retire I get no medical benefits or do I get paid a retirement salary until I die-when my money runs out them I am done. As for the summers off, I do not get paid for those months-I spread my pay over the 12 months-I get paid for only 9 months and without any PAID vacation like most other jobs and they are now complaining about our sick days that teachers are taking. I have about 75 sick days accumulated currently and if I was to retire tomorrow then I would get nothing for them or would lose them. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I take the entire day off because what is the state willing to give me for them when I retire-NOTHING! So why not take them. This bill will not do much to fix the problem-the problem is the SYSTEM not the teachers working in it.

  • Ross Ballard

    Dear Concerned Educator,
    Thank You for your clear and concise response to the 'loonacy' arguments seen all too often in the comments section. Current research indicates that at least 77% of anti-education, anti-union Republicans still owe History/English teachers a final paper. Ross...(former miner, current college professor. Thank you WV teachers.)

    • Shadow

      Very one sided comment. What did your research tell you about Democrats? Or did they drop out before they got that far?

  • a concerned educator

    What is not being addressed in the bill is the need to change education policies involving what is actually going on in the classroom. I totally agree that there are teachers who need to be removed from the classroom. That is where principals need to do their job and evaluate teachers honestly and objectively. In addition, state policies need to be developed that support principals when they do this. This is where the unions need to realize that there are some (I did not say "all" or "the majority" teachers who need to be fired. This is mainly because they are not doing their job. They sit in their seats, give out worksheets, don't come to school on time, and do not try to support the educational needs of their students. This type of policy has nothing to do with taking away the "rights" of a teacher. This would be a policy just like for any other job.

    However, I do not believe that teachers should lose their job over WESTEST scores. There are too many other factors involved in the actual education of students. Parents are a MAJOR part of their child's success. If they are not supportive of the educational system, the child is probably not going to succeed. I know of many children whose parents do not check their bookbags each night, let alone even each month, parents do not help their children study, and parents who constantly move their children from school to school. I know of one child who had been enrolled in four schools by January of this school year alone. This child is not going to succeed, and it has nothing to do with the teacher. What about parents who do not send their child to school? I know of parents who let their children skip school on a regular basis. Should this be the teacher's fault when the child does not do well on the WESTEST? As I have said in the past, if we want to hold teachers accountable for WESTEST scores, why don't we start withholding medicare or medicaid payments to doctors or dentists if their patients are overweight, smoke, or have too many cavities? Why don't we withold legal payments to lawyers who get paid from public funds if they lose their case, and why don't we fire politicians if the economy does not improve? All of these instances have too many variables controlling them, and one person alone cannot be help responsible.

    If the legislature truly wants to change education, they will change the curriculum that is taught to a more developmentally appropriate one that focuses on what students truly need, not some pie-in-the-sky unrealistic set of information that will never be used by our students. Research indicates that the states that have the highest educational test scores also have the lowest graduation rates. GIve students more options, start career and technical education earlier, and go back to a more traditional form of education where students are taught on their level, not that everyone is going to college.

    In addition, cut out all of the unnecessary paperwork that teachers and principals must do. It is mindboggling! Let teachers teach and give them the time to do it. Changing a calendar will not do it.

    I am not a teacher, but I do a lot of work in education at the state and local level. I am also married to a teacher. I am in schools constantly, and I see the issues that are faced by teachers. The general public has not idea about the challenges teachers face each day. If you truly want to learn about the realities of education, I ask that you please go to your local board of education on Monday, ask to be a volunteer in your county schools, and spend several days doing just that. You will get your eyes opened quite quickly once you actually work with students.

    • GW

      I agree. A good teacher is now defined as one who has their data notebook in the best order with all data points plotted correctly. Can the kids read or write? No, but they are great teachers because they have this 3 inch binder full of data and all of their kids are using the computer programs according to the prescribed timelines defined by the state.

  • Robert

    And, yes Joe..you were magically born with all the abilities to be an engineer. Nobody helped you along the way...you and you alone...had the innate ability to do algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Yes sir, nobody had to teach you a thing...you are right...the world would be a better place without teachers. I feel smarter just reading your post...thank you...sir!!! I think I'm going to go out tomorrow and design a bridge...after all...I'm feel sure after reading your post that I know everything there about building bridges.

    You have a nice weekend too...

    Robert

    • Joe

      Respectfully, Robert, your comments are completely out of line. No where did I say or imply that the world is better off without teachers, or whatever I have accomplished was done solely on my own. I am still in close touch with a handful of university and high school teachers of mine that I credit directly for providing me the foundation to learn.

      The point of my comment above was that being an expert in "the field" should not make one automatically feel they are uniquely qualified to develop and oversee a strategy for improvement and success. Being an effective administrator requires a unique skillset, whether the area is education, engineering or any other area.

      BTW-you might want to rethink the use of sarcasm, you're not very good at it.

      • Robert

        Actually Joe....you are right I'm not that good at sarcasm. However, I am smart enough to realize that standard practice business models can never be applied to public education. Those in education are not building widgets and there are NO one size fits all solutions. The dynamics of teaching students is somewhat more complex than most are willing to admit and requires the cooperation of several stakeholders. No one child is the same and not all is equipped with the same academic skill set. They come from very diverse backgrounds and social economic situations. I believe that those in education are the best suited to solve educations problems.

        Contrary to popular belief, they weren't the ones that created the problems. Politicians did...but they want to blame the teachers...and apparently you do too. Teachers are easy targets. You know getting paid for snow days and having summers-off. In your profession if you were told by your employer that they had no work for you for three months, it would be called "getting laid-off" and you would collect unemployment benefits...just say'n Joe.

        One last question Joe. You appear by all accounts to be a rather intelligent man. If you are passionate enough about education to take time out of your busy day to post a thread about the failures of public education, why didn't you become a teacher? I think I know the answer to that question...if you're an honest man...you do too.

        • Shadow

          I would really like to know the business practices that can't be applied to WV education. I know the one, fire the incompetent! Another one, reduce the hangers-on, sometimes called specialists.

          • GW

            Rule 1: You switch suppliers if your raw materials are in poor shape upon arrival. Schools do not have that luxury.

          • robert

            Okay Shadow...I have a better idea. Fire everybody!!! How do we proceed from there? Firing people sounds easy...except when you already a shortage of needed man power. Next...

  • Keiffer

    Teachers are the backbone of education and jobs. Where would anybody be without teachers. Pass bill senate bill 417 or HB 2527 and help parents and students. We don't have a teaching problem we have a drug problem. This problem is all over WV and the rest of the country. We need parents to care about their kids again instead their next fix. Sad but true. Bill 359 isn't the answer that's for sure.

  • thornton

    They are indeed likely to fold like a cheap suit....or camera, depending upon the quote one prefers.

    This union stuff makes one feel like taking a bath.

  • Joe

    Well stated, Cap:

    You know, I'm a civil engineer of approx 30 years, and like to think my team are regional experts in cantilever structure-based design and can deliver designs as good as any engineering team in this region of the country. That is, execute the core service of our business.

    However, no one has ever suggested, including myself, that I am qualified to manage the overall function and operation of my company that ensures my ability to do my job is possible.

    I have some input, and appreciate when it is solicited. However, we have several non-engineering company leaders who do an outstanding job in overseeing and ensuring the success of our business.

    I don't understand the "only teachers can say what's best for education argument.

    All have a nice weekend,

    Joe

    • stophating

      @Joe


      This is what I summarize from what you have written: you are an expert in your area of engineering. You don't know or care to get involved in the business end of the company you are employed by (or own), but if those on that end of the business ask your opinion you feel connected and that your opinion is valued.

      I am, as are most teachers with at least 8 (and I selected 8 based on my personal experience) years of experience with a subject/grade, are experts in our area. I don't, nor do many teachers care to deal with the business end of education unless we have to, but that doesn't mean when we see a county increase administration by 20% over 10 years while decreasing classroom teachers by 16% (those are actual numbers for the county I work in) that administration is bloated.

      The main difference between business and education, is that outside of those that set the budget, everyone is working toward a single goal of educating students (who may or may not value education).

      Business's goal is to make a profit. Now if you can convince me how profit and educating students is linked, then maybe I would be accepting of the crap that the WV Senate, which is directly and arm of the WV Chamber of Commerce, is trying to push on education.

      • Shadow

        I think you see all business interested only in money. I think Profit describes many things and I think quite a few business people also see community service, employee welfare and advancement as part of their Profit.

  • CaptainQ

    Wow! Looks like the "WVEA/WVFT Voting Block" in the Senate is playing 'stall-ball' on this bill, perhaps hoping that time will run out before it can be brought through the system.

    Is THIS a surprise to anyone? The leaders of the two teachers unions are going to fight ANY form of progress on educational reform TOOTH AND NAIL! Truth be told, folks like Judy Hale could care less about improving things for students, all they keep crowing about is the old tired line: "Give teachers more money and education will improve." That's a bald-faced lie! Only true, far reaching reforms in and out of the classroom will make WV's public education system better. We'll see in short order whether THIS legislature has the GUTS to stand up to the WVEA/WVFT or if they'll fold like a house of cards.

    My guess is, they'll fold....

    • Keiffer

      What about parents who show no interest in their child's I education. What about making kids go to summer school if they fail the Westest. Do you believe a lot of parents have drug problems? you know they do. How many parents go to parent teacher meetings? The answer not a lot ,maybe 10 to 15 percent. But low scores are always the teachers fault, What a joke.

    • stophating

      @CaptQ--

      Have you read the bill? Have you heard any mention of a pay raise from either organization (neither is an union). The only mention of a pay raise that I've heard was from the audit commissioned by the governor, but that was conveniently left out of the bill.

      I've said it before and I'll say it again. Only three actions are needed to improve all schools. Re-introduce the paddle. In grades K-4 require students not reading on grade level to attend a 6 week summer session to be promoted to next grade. In grades 7-12, require end of course exams.

      Simple fix and the only money spent is for the six week summer remedial session, and many schools already have voluntary summer programs so it would be nearly cost neutral.

    • GW

      There is truth to the money argument. My kids qualified for reduced lunch on my teaching salary. There is no room for advancement for teachers other than administration. I am a good teacher, could I go ask for a raise? NO. There needs to be a common sense way to address this issue. This current environment just makes people work hard enough to not get fired.