The presidents of the teachers unions in West Virginia praised Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for some of his education reform ideas introduced Wednesday night during Tomblin’s State of the State Address but both say there’s one key piece missing.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee and West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Judy Hale say there cannot be true reform unless there’s money for teacher pay raises.
“Many people don’t want to hear it, but we have to address that if we want to attract teachers into the profession,” Lee said.
The union presidents maintain more qualified teachers are needed in West Virginia and that will only come if teachers are paid more. AFT-WV President Hale says the teachers currently rank near the bottom in the U.S. in pay.
“The governor said that a good teacher is the most important to academic achievement but we can’t get that in West Virginia because we’re 48th in the country and our pay is not competitive,” Hale said.
Hale and Lee said they like many things the governor talked about including increasing four-year-old education and backing the career technical program into middle school.
But Hale says you can’t get too excited or too disappointed over what you hear in the State of the State Address.
“I’ve been around a long time and there are some red flags in there but it’s not what you start with but what you end up with in the end of the session. So I’m looking forwarded to working on it,” Hale said.