Carmichael’s plan doesn’t meet the needs of students

January 27, 2019

After promising teachers a 5 percent pay raise, Republican Senate President Mitch Carmichael wants to link this pay raise with education reform. He wants to legalize charter schools and provide public money for homeschooling and private schools and to even pay some teachers such as math teachers more than regular classroom teachers.

He is opening a can of worms. Our tax dollars support public education, not private. Do we want our tax dollars to support religious schools? Would we be willing to use our tax dollars to support Muslim schools as well as Christian schools? Do we want our tax dollars to support charter schools that specialize in only one field while we ignore other fields of interest?

Our mathematics program in West Virginia is having poor results, but do we want to pay math teachers more than music teachers? Both math and music teachers invest the same amount of time and money getting their education degree.

It sounds to me like the math problem is the way public school teachers are taught to teach math. Instead of future educators of elementary mathematics being taught advanced calculus and trigonometry, they should be taught specialized classes in how to teach elementary mathematics to small children. Advanced mathematics should be saved for teachers who plan to teach high school and STEM classes. An elementary math teacher should not be required to take the same classes that a pre-engineering college student takes.

Carmicheal wants to provide public money for homeschooling. That means the state will have to get involved with providing homeschooling materials and testing materials and following up to make sure that the homeschooling is actually taking place and that the students are achieving educational goals.

Some parents will say that they are homeschooling, and the children will receive substandard or no schooling. If West Virginia is having trouble keeping accountability in the public schools now, just imagine what kind of trouble they will have with keeping up the accountability of hundreds if not thousands of individual homes.

West Virginia teachers went back to work after being promised a 5 percent pay raise. They were not told that the pay raise was going to be linked to other education reforms. Give West Virginia teachers their 5 percent raise. If you paid all teachers with a bachelor’s degree with the same salary that other professions with bachelor’s degrees receive, maybe you would not have the problem of hiring and keeping qualified professionals in the classroom.

Linda LeMaster lives in Westmoreland. She is a retired teacher who taught in public schools for 44 years.