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Readers differ on many facets of education bill

February 14, 2019 GMT

Is West Virginia headed for a repeat of last year’s statewide teacher strike? Over the weekend, with the House of Delegates considering amendments to the state Senate’s omnibus education bill, leaders of the state’s three education unions met in Flatwoods, where they announced, after tallying votes from all 55 counties, teachers and school employees “overwhelmingly” authorized an unspecified, statewide work action sometime in the future, should they deem it appropriate.

The possibility of another strike, and the continuing debate over the state’s public school system, drew several comments from readers of The Herald-Dispatch’s Facebook page. A sample follows.

Glade Keener: “I am very glad that my children are home-schooled, because from an ‘outsider’ watching all this back and forth it simply looks like the kids are pawns in a union/government dance that no one is winning. And too much of this infighting is filtering down to the classroom level. There is enough money already. It’s just not being managed properly by any of these players.”

Thomas W. Goodman: “If anybody who can make this happen reads this, I will gladly cross picket lines to keep schools open. Reasonable rates.”

Kelli Sobonya: “This late in the session, to get meaningful education reform that prioritizes our children, if it were my call, I would put this bill and the pay raises with into a special session with ALL stakeholders putting forth viable alternatives and solutions which is not one-sided toward any group other than our students.”

Phoebe Patton Randolph: “This is a reaction to national, outside influences pushing their agenda on our state’s legislative leadership. We need a constructive reform process that is inclusive and based on common sense solutions, where everyone is involved, from students, parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers and policy makers. Our state suffers from a scarcity mindset as a result of generations of desperate poverty and tight budgets, as well as a top-down approach to policy making. We need strong leaders who are interested in a collaborative process where more voices are heard to find the best solutions for every student in our state.”

Jeffrey A. Ward: ”$2 billion out of a $4 billion state budget to education isn’t ‘tight,’ especially in a state that has lost population for decades. Money isn’t the issue; there’s been plenty of it. Choice, competition, rewarding merit, and eliminating government waste should be the goals.”

George Connley: “They better get things fixed or we will walk out again. I promise we will.”

David Smith: “Unreal that they want to do away with public schools and make it even harder for the underprivileged and economically stressed areas in WV while helping out those with the means to give theirs a good education! America has become for the wealthy and left those hard-working folks and those areas in need to lift up their students in the dust! When will it end?”

Will Fox: “I thought it was illegal for WV teachers to strike. If it is, enforce the law and keep kids in school and let your union leaders fight your fight. That’s what they are hired for and that’s why you pay your hard-earned money to them.”

Samantha Doutt: ”... an actual strike is illegal. However, if the school board chooses to close the schools it isn’t technically a strike. It is a work stoppage. A strike would be if schools remain open and we refuse to report.”