File photo
Michael Martirano, former West Virginia Superintendent of Schools.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education is expected to approve the hiring of Maryland native Dr. Michael Martirano as the new state Superintendent of Schools.

Martirano is eager to get to work and speaking on MetroNews Talkline recently indicated he comes to the job with no misconceptions of the challenges facing the state’s education system.

“It is my firm believe and philosophy that we have to have the most highly effective and highly qualified teacher in front of our children every day,” Martirano said. “That just goes without compromise.”

But, West Virginia has struggled to keep those qualified teachers at the blackboard in recent years for a variety of reasons. Some teachers cross state lines for better pay while others don’t want to go into teaching in depressed areas of the state. Martirano said he faced similar challenges in his position as a superintendent in Maryland.

“I recognize the salary disparity. I recognize the fact that individuals go to other states,” he said. “What we have to do is provide the emphasis to support our teachers, to have the professional development for teachers, to have the right working conditions, and ultimately work with our state to look at what we can do collectively to improve the salary of our teachers. It’s a very competitive world out there.”

While leadership changes, the economic realities do not. West Virginia will be forced to do more with less as it has been for year. Martirano said he’s up for the challenge.

“I want to let every teacher in the state of West Virginia know I have great respect for them, and all of this comes down to having a highly qualified teacher in front of our students every day,” he said. “We have to put measures in place to keep teachers from leaving our state and from leaving areas of our state which have greater challenges.”

bubble graphic


bubble graphic



    Mr. Holland's opus gave a mind numbing reason why teachers would be better off if administrators wouldn't support what is, at present, rules to govern. This is exactly what is hurting our school system, debating WV's problems with education by supporting past doctrines. I could care less what the rules are in place now, I just know that my wife, and thousands of other teachers like her, come home to their spouses and tell them how great most of their students are, but how much paper work and silly classes they must attend because administrators paid for them to lecture on programs that invariably are swept under the rug once they can get away with it.
    Also, in regards to inclusion, my wife mentioned how difficult it was years ago to teach the other kids when only one or two kids are creating distractions all day long because of their apptitudes, and she went on to tell me she had told her principle and the counselors who are trained to detect these students, but to no avail did she get help. This thing about inclusion having a negative affect on teaching is all of my thinking, not hers. Of course, Mr Holland, you know better. I am guessing though you are either an administrator or work for a teacher's union just by the way you downgraded my thoughts by supporting your side by all these boring edicts. I was glassy eyed, but then again, just like me I welcome your discourse in this important debate.

  • L. VanHorn

    West Virginia is slowly destroying the education system in this state. It begins with no support, low pay and treating teachers like they are slaves. Please stop blaming teachers for all the education woes. Teachers spend many thankless hours outside of the so called eight hour work day. What other occupation is a person expected to do their work outside the work place. I know you are thinking that teachers knew that when they signed on for the job. You are correct about that, but, that doesn't make it right. Until teachers are respected and until parents are held accountable for the behavior of their child and their part when it comes to the education of their child, there is really no way to improve the "scores" of the children of this state. Scores, scores, scores.....I wish we could score some of the administrators and some of the parents, and better yet, how about those at the state department level.

  • Gary Karstens

    It will be important for this man to give a big open ear to the WVEA and AFT.

  • Big Jim

    Hey "The Meb" there is no such thing as tenure in WV.


    I am not a teacher, but my wife has been one in Mon County for well over 20 years and what I have learned from her is that it is virtually impossible for a principal to get rid of a bad teacher because of the tenure system and the 2 teacher unions. Hats off to our present governor if he follows through with him aggressive plan to right the wrongs of the teacher's unions and the top heavy administrative positions who keep giving themselves raises with very little work compared to teachers.
    Teachers want a lot less paper work and a lot less silly new programs that none of the teachers believe in. Yes, they need salary increases comparable to other state, but in my opinion that is not nearly as important to teachers than teachers believing that they are allowed to teach the way they see fit if it is appropriate. Too many hands in the cookie jar, most teachers don't believe in inclusion, they feel that the disabled slower kids who disrupt class constantly keep the brighter kids to obtain to the optimum of their abilities. There is a lot to be rectified if our state is going to compete with others, but I think our current govenment stood up to the unions and is on the right tract if he keeps it up instead of swaying to the unions and special interest groups.

    • Mr. Holland

      Other states must follow Federal guidelines under various mandates from IDEA to NCLB to RTT. That includes mainstreaming children with special needs. Federal law stipulates that the least restrictive environment must be considered first for each child. With this, the general education classroom is the first consideration under federal law. In doing this IEP teams must come to a consensus as to which settings are best in meeting the needs of students. If they determine that a student is best served in any setting aside from the general classroom environment (including that of a general classroom with collaborating teachers), then there must be various quantitative and qualitative data to back this stipulation in an IEP. This is not only required for a change in school, but also for placing a student in self-contained classes within the main school building itself. Special education and mainstreaming are not new to education, and they are not all established by liberal, Democratic politicians. IDEA was initially passed in 1972 under President Nixon (six years before the Federal Department of Education was established.) NCLB was passed and highly praised by President George W. Bush. The effects these laws have on the general classroom is something all teachers have to deal with. We have to be flexible and we have to roll with it. We have to differentiate to different abilities in our classrooms, but the testing companies that give us the coveted WESTEST has no such requirement. The Federal guidelines around the general education environment is also affected by legal precedence established by court cases in which schools were challenged over their following Federal laws. I would invite anyone to research all of these as there are too many to list and describe in one setting. Anyone who graduated with a degree in education can tell you that these were covered in many of their education classes.

      I don't know what to tell you about what to do about the issue of mainstreaming. If this is something that you are getting from your wife, then the only thing I can tell you is that she would probably be happier teaching in a charter school or a private school. Don't expect the pay to be as high, and don't expect to have due process rights as these are things that a brought about and preserved by the unions. Teaching in another state might bring in a better paycheck, but nothing would change in regards to mainstreaming. It is still required by law.

    • Tom

      I am sorry but I disagree. There are protections for teachers thru the unions but I hear that all the time that bad teachers are forever protected. There is paperwork and follow up procedures to give a teacher a chance to improve but a good principal can "fire" a teacher once those avenues are exhausted. Most complaints come from lazy principals who do not want to follow procedures

  • Tom

    We lose many of our young teachers because of lack of support once they begin teaching. The mentoring system in place in WV as well as many other states is a joke. Most of the time the "mentor" is not hired until after the beginning of the school year and then is only required to drop by occasionally to touch base with the rookie teacher. If it were not for well meaning teachers who immediately take the rookie under their wings, we would lose many more.

    A system needs to be developed and supported where a veteran teacher or two is kept on staff at each school to nurture the new teachers plus help even veteran teachers continue to improve. It is impossible for principals to pull that off in addition to their already too many responsibilities.

    • Big Jim

      Tom, you are correct, new teachers are leaving by the car load for jobs with less stress, higher pay, and better working conditions. Not to mention being crucified by the public, especially elected officials.