Legislation that makes the most dramatic changes in public education in West Virginia in recent memory is expected to receive final approval in the House of Delegates Friday. The bill cleared second reading Thursday as the House rejected five different Republican amendments.

The sweeping legislation is designed to shift more responsibility away from Charleston and to local school boards, including the ability to hire teachers based on qualifications instead of just seniority. The bill also requires 180 days of instruction, a goal school systems frequently fail to meet.

Additionally, the bill toughens up accreditation, requiring the state Board of Education to hold public schools more accountable for results.

“No piece of legislation is ever perfect,” said House Speaker Rick Thompson. “But I think it’s an enormous step. It’s more than we’ve ever done before.”

The House rejected five different Republican amendments, including proposals to establish charter schools and provide merit pay for teachers. House Minority Leader Tim Armstead was disappointed the House did not give serious consideration to the amendments.

“I think that is an effort to limit any additional reforms this year,” Armstead said. “We certainly need to fight for reforms and bold changes. We’re 49th in the country.”

Still, the bill represents a significant victory for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who called for education reform in his State of the State Address. Tomblin, reformed-minded members of the state Board of Education, and key lawmakers formed a powerful alliance that pushed back against the state’s two teacher unions, which opposed many of the changes.

Ultimately, the bill was a compromise agreed to with the unions, but it includes most of the changes the governor and the state BOE wanted to make.


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  • Hilltopsandy

    I'm a teacher and I can tell you this legislation won't do a thing to help education in our state. Our problems are based in our devolving culture. We our forced to put up with behaviors we never would have tolerated 30 years ago. You wan't to make a start on education reform? 1. No diploma no welfare for 18 year olds. Then bring back true expulsion for incorrigible students. Then bring back corporal punishment. Then hire teachers that are willing and able to use it. Then require end of year exams to advance. That wouldn't cure the situation ,but it would be a start, and it wouldn't cost us anything. But don't hold your breath Nobody in our government has that kind of intestinal fortitude.

    • JOHN.W


    • Hilltopsandy

      Are not our

  • MrJ

    We'll be back here in a couple of years, once again listening to politicians decry the lack of results from our education system and desperately looking for something or some group upon which to pin the blame.

    Who will get the blame in 2015 or 2016 when Johnny still can't (or won't) read?

  • C. Smith

    This "sweeping legislation" has left many making decisions regarding education who have never been in a public school classroom this year, or last year. School will finish up in May, we'll all take summer break, only to return to school in August to see the classroom teachers the Principal hired over the summer when the Faculty Senate was absent.

  • a concerned educator

    I don't see how anyone can say that this bill makes dramatic changes in education in WV. It's a joke. This bill will do nothing for education when it comes to the true needs of students. It's just another flimflam act of our politicians trying to make a pimple look like a mountain.

    True educational reform would have looked at curriculum, truancy, the amount of paperwork teachers must complete, and graduation requirements that are realistic. Once again, true reform gets the shaft to cover up for the incompetency of our law makers.

    • CaptainQ

      You are correct! Thanks to the leadership of the two teacher's unions, this bill has been watered down considerably from what the Governor initially wanted.

      Once more the leadership of the WVEA/WVFT stands solidly AGAINST true, meaningful education reform in WV.

      • stophating


        This bill was never true reform. The only recommendation that even came from the audit was 180 days....

        • CaptainQ

          Stophating, in THIS state, even the slightest move that will actually help our public school students IS reform. Look at how long it took just to get the leaders of the two teachers unions to agree to allow the movement of the start and end dates of the school year! That took DECADES to pass in Charleston! Hopefully, we won't have to wait ANOTHER decade to see true, education reforms to happen in WV.

    • mntnman

      You are correct. But some want to turn a blind eye so they can say something was done.

      In three years when little has changed, we'll be at it again, wondering what went wrong. The bill simply fails to address the fundamental problems in public education in WV.

  • Keiffer

    The educaton bill wont help parents and students as much as getting parents off drugs. Why arent the people seeing Senate Bill 417 and HB 2527 getting approved and voted on. Its a win win for everyone. (1) It will save peoples lives. (2) It will lower the prison population. (3) It will get parents to start putting their children first instead of drugs. (4) We the people need to see a meaningful fight to stop drugs in our state.