CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice and legislative leaders have reached agreement on some topics expected to be discussed in the resumption of the special legislative session on education reform.
Justice met Wednesday with Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw. Carmichael talked about the meeting during a Thursday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”
Carmichael said the special session won’t resume until there’s at least some agreement among a majority if lawmakers on some of the same issues.
“We will not enter into a session and spend any taxpayers’ money unless there’s consensus before we do it,” Carmichael said. “We will realize at least there’s a general prospect that we’re going to get this done quickly.”
Carmichael said the three have agreed to propose public charter schools but the number of schools remains undecided.
“Is there agreement on charter schools? Yes there is. How many should there be? Is there agreement? No there is not,” he said.
In recent public comments, Gov. Justice has called for a few charter schools as part of a pilot project. Carmichael said the number shouldn’t be limited.
“I don’t think there should be a low limitation on it, the Senate does not think, but we’re willing to make concessions on that if people are afraid that what works in 44 other states can’t work here and have a real trepidation about it then we’ll go to the lowest common denominator,” Carmichael said.
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Carmichael said there’s no agreement on the issue of Education Savings Accounts where the money would follow the student.
“No, there’s not complete agreement on that,” Carmichael said. “People are afraid of Education Savings Accounts as they pertain to special needs students.”
Carmichael said he’s getting tired of hearing what he called “fear-mongering arguments.”
“I’m getting frustrated with this degree of apathy toward a system that is not performing and knowing that our children could do so much better. Until we get he courage, the political will and the courage, that will substantially alter the life course of our children–then shame on us,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael said some of the reform issues will be presented in separate bills but others will be grouped together like Senate Bill 451 was in the regular session. He said there would be 100 bills if every issue were taken separately.
“It’s funding, it’s flexibility, it’s options, it’s choices. There’s no way other than to discuss those items (together),” he said. “If you want to call it 154 to make somebody feel better rather than 451 that’s fine,” according to Carmichael.
Carmichael said he has no plans of forcing his views on anyone but rather he wants to convince them with the facts.
“I want to convince and persuade them,” he said. “We’re going to provide mostly everything the teachers’ unions want. Also we’re going to provide some flexibilities and options for our students and parents.”