CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The possible creation of charter schools is one of the many issues still pending at the State House as the end of the 2015 Regular Legislative Session looms.  As of Monday, less than three weeks remain before the close of the session.

SB 14, allowing for schools that operate more independently, is one of the Republican leadership’s legislative priorities.

But Berkeley County Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) does not understand the motivation behind giving just charter schools special treatment.

“What are some of the factors that make a charter school so successful?  It’s not because we change its name, there are certain elements in that,” Unger said.  “Why not apply it to the traditional public schools and make all schools successful?”

He argued if freedom is good for charter schools, as supporters of the bill contend, lifting bureaucratic requirements for all schools would bring even more benefits.

“Let’s clear out all those mandates and everything that’s out there for the bureaucrats and politicians that heaps on the teacher and let the teacher teach,” Unger said.  “I say, if it’s good for charter schools, it’s good for traditional schools.”

The bill came out of the Senate Education Committee last week when Unger successfully added an amendment to it.  That amendment opens up the charter school option to all students in communities where charter schools are created.

“This would allow equal opportunity for students to get into a charter school as any student, regardless of whether their parent wants to apply or not.”  With the change, Unger said parents could reverse any automatic enrollment.

The bill is now pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

The 2015 Regular Legislative Session continues until March 14.

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  • Larry Flint

    Typical democrats. Saying, "Keep are kids dumm an theyll keep votin' democrat for another 80 years er more!" How dumb can you hill folk be? Wake up and see 80 years of democrat control has lead you to the bottom of nearly every metric.

  • wvu999

    The good guys won today
    Republicans fell asleep at the wheel
    Remember that teachers... Republicans hate you

    • Mark

      The republicans will do what ever it takes to enslave people

  • Rodney Hytonen

    Privatization doubles costs (proven,)
    and eventually halves quality, and does not stop there.

    It is accountable only to profit and greed.

  • Nelson Smith

    Precisely, Sen. Unger! The most important lesson of charters is that they''re accountable for outcomes rather than inputs. That principle should be adopted system-wide, and it would be good to have charters function as "proof-points"... but we need to pass SB 14 for that to happen.

  • maynard

    It should be understood that 80-85% of the state level bureaucratic rules and regulations come from federal mandates that are found in the dated No Child Left Behind Act. The other 15-20% come from overreaching state board members Gayle Manchin, powered by the hallucinations of Lloyd Jackson.

    • bianca

      Not completely true, West Virginia chose to adopt the newly implemented Common Core standards, unlike our neighbor Virginia. Those standards drive textbook purchases, prof development, school direction, etc. The problem with charter schools is the lack of efficient regulators monitoring the organizations that are hired to oversee chartered schools.

  • mc2011

    If the teacher's union is against the plan it must be a good one. You know, one where teachers are held accountable for performance or better pay for better results. Kind of like the rest of us in the real world. What can these schools hurt? It's not like they can take us any lower on the national scale. We are already near the bottom on any item of importance. Throwing more money at a incompetent system hasn't worked in 50 years, maybe something new will change the results.

    • wv92

      What exactly are you meaning by "better results?" If you are referring to standardized scores, I would advise that you reconsider because teachers are held extremely accountable for students' test scores despite the vast inequalities faced by students that effect these test scores. By the way, according to research, students who attend charter schools do not do any better on standardized tests then public schools students.
      Also, I will tell you what charter schools will "hurt." They will perpetuate the resegregation of schooling by class and socioeconomic status, which is already happening. Students who already have access to a better education will have even greater access, while students from low-income families will have even less. This will widen the opportunity gap that exists in our school system and society.
      We need to focus on creating equitable, public schools rather than simply trying "something new." Charter schools have been proven ineffective, especially for students living in poverty.

    • wvu999

      While there is no accountability for students and parents

      Get a clue

  • ViennaGuy

    What will public charter schools fix? Well, I can tell you what they will NOT fix:

    1. They will NOT fix parents who do not take an active role in their kids' education. Too many parents see school as a glorified form of daycare. When was the last time they went to a PTA meeting? Sat down with their kids' teachers and discussed their kids' progress? Sat down with their kids and helped with homework? Kids don't teach themselves.

    2. They will NOT bureaucratic red tape at the state level. Be honest - does anyone really think that public charter schools are going to be completely freed from the bureaucratic red tape that entraps regular public schools? Not hardly, as long as federal/state money is involved. "He who has the gold makes the rules."

    3. They will NOT fix administrators who need to get out of their offices and back into the classrooms, administrators who have become too detached from the kids and too consumed with programs and with their own career advancement.

    For all of the hype surrounding charter schools, I've yet to see concrete data which proves such schools are markedly better than conventional public schools.

    • Tom wv

      Maybe you should look harder. Just because you can't find data doesn't mean there is none out there. I guess you also have a hard time remembering awhile back how parents where taken out of schools! Liberal policies have hurt and continue to hurt public schools. Now I see there is this big push to get parents involved again. I all so see that instead of blaming liberal policies they are blaming parents for not being involved. Liberalism fails every where it's tried.

      • ViennaGuy

        - Maybe you should look harder. Just because you can't find data doesn't mean there is none out there. -

        Maybe you should stop taking potshots at me and point out the data.

        - I guess you also have a hard time remembering awhile back how parents where taken out of schools! -

        Oh, so parents are no longer allowed to talk to teachers? Parents are no longer allowed to ask their kids how school is going? Parents are no longer allowed to help their kids with homework? When did all of this happen?

        You seem to think that I'm a liberal, which is not the case. I am all for innovation in schools, but I'm not convinced that public 'charter schools' will solve anything. Is there something wrong with being skeptical and wanting to see proof that they work?

        • Tom wv

          You liberals are so predictable. You spill a bunch of your views as fact without anything to back it up. Other than I said it ..... so it doesn't need facts! So when I gave my view without facts then you say I need facts. Hippocrate.!

    • J the C


    • ViennaGuy

      #2 should be "They will NOT end bureaucratic red tape at the state level."

  • Paul

    Lets hope this bill stays in committee and I appreciate the Senate committee doing their homework and folks like wvu999 giving us the "full monty".

  • Brenda Doss

    I agree with Unnger. Why are they wasting time and money in consideration of this.

    • Tom wv

      Why... Because the public schools are a mess! If I understand Unger he is basically saying get goverment out of schools! I don't understand the democrats. They had 80 years to fix public schools and they made things worse. So all of a sudden now that the republicans have an idea for charter schools the democrats want to fix public schools again. Why in the world should we listen to anything a democrat says about any type of school?

  • wvu999

    This is about nothing more than money and lobbying. Unions get the heck beat out of them on here but here is an interesting FACT for you union haters .... from NY
    "Charter school groups and their supporters spent $16 million on lobbying, campaign contributions to state-level candidates and parties and independent expenditure campaigns last year. Charter schools spent nearly $700,000 on lobbying. Education unions and labor-funded advocates spent $11.77 million, according to the analysis.

    Lets dig a little deeper... though the republican leaders do not want you to...
    1. The Teach for America founder and CEO is Wendy Kopp. Remember the WV republicans want TFA to come to WV.
    2. Wendy Kopp's husband is Richard Barth.
    3. Richard Barth owns KIPP Foundation.
    4. The KIPP Foundation is the largest Charter School program in all of the US.
    5. KIPP employees TFA teachers so both spouses profit from it.
    6. The Charter School expert that has been sent to WV is Dr. Lisa Grover from New Mexico.
    7. Dr. Grover is the expert that is feeding WV all their information... her doctorate is in Romance Languages ..... wow simply wow
    8. Amanda Pasdon works for the WV Chamber of Commerce.
    9. The Chamber is all about business and charter school are big business.

    This isnt about improving WV schools or helping WV kids. This is about making a profit for those who donated to republicans. Just connect the dots.

    • ViennaGuy

      You're ignoring the fact that these will be *public* charter schools, not privately-run schools. The schools will not be run by for-profit private companies.

      • wvu999

        So who will run or govern the public charter school?
        You're telling me no one will make a profit and no one from Teach for America will work in them?

        • wvu999

          I phrased that wrong
          I know the local score boe will govern... I mean who will set up the charter and put the people in place and be either the ceo or cfo

          • ViennaGuy

            The local BOE would be in charge, you said it yourself. There is no need for a private company to be involved.

    • grumpy ole' man


      You mean republicans only care about making money for big business.... Who would have thought that, or rather who didn't think that was their objective.

      Thanks for a very informative post!!! so much better than most of the garbage that finds its way to the comments.

  • a concerned educator

    I agree with John Unger, and I have made the same statements many times before to the Department of Education. The bureaucracy of education, both at the state and federal levels, hamstrings so many aspects of the entire process that teachers, principals, and county boards of education are unable to provide the best education possible.

    As someone who works closely with the Department of Education on a regular basis, I see how the workings from the Department bog down the entire educational process. Teachers are unable to meet the needs of students because of all of the ridiculous paperwork and mandates that truly do not contribute one bit to educating students.

    If the Senate really wants to make a difference in education in this state, get rid of the restrictions placed on the education system and let teachers do what they were trained to do: TEACH!

    • wirerowe

      Well state concerned educator. you are more knowledgeable than me but a couple of things.My impression is that the unions who are opposing charter schools would also oppose getting rid of many of the restrictions on local school boards and principals particularly as they pertain to employer employee relations. If they would support getting rid of these restrictions then we would not need charter schools.

      • a concerned educator


        I agree that it should be easier to get rid of teachers who are not doing their jobs. It is not uncommon to see teachers arrive late to work, as well as teachers who really don't teach...who just have the students read the text and take tests.

        However, there are also MANY caring, competent individuals who do an EXCELLENT job teaching each day. These are the teachers who truly care about their students' well being, as well as their learning. These teachers need to be supported, and there needs to be a system of checks and balances that protects them.

        • wirerowe

          You make excellent points. Ultimately I would prefer a system that gives much more discretion to the local boards and the individual principals on selecting teachers for openings and deciding on who loses a job when there is downsizing. That is a better system on balance than giving the poorer teachers equal chance through coin flips or actually giving them a leg up because of seniority. Removing all protections probably goes too far but the current system is not the best way to go. Protect the good teachers and let the poorer teachers find other career paths that are best suited to their talents and motivation levels.