One of West Virginia’s vexing problems is that it spends a relatively generous amount of money on education but has little to show for it in terms of student achievement. That was underscored earlier this year in the findings of a $275,000 “education audit” which made dozens of recommendations relating to everything from the state’s education bureaucracy to the efficiency of counties’ school bus systems.
The audit, conducted by consulting firms Public Works LLC and MGT and commissioned by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, was released in early January — too late to be a central focus in the legislative session that ended just two months later. But now, Tomblin’s office and two statewide advocacy groups are seeking the public’s input on the audit during the next two months as state policymakers consider how to react to its recommendations.
We encourage the public to heed this call to action. The effectiveness of the state’s primary and secondary public schools not only has an impact on the future of our children, but also on the state’s long-term economic health.
The challenge was laid out clearly by Vision Shared, a non-profit group and host for eight community forums to be held throughout the state in June and July. In announcing those dates, the group noted: “Despite relatively high rankings in educational spending, West Virginia students score below the national average on 21 of the 24 indicators of student performance as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”
Among the education audit’s overriding themes is that state government has a too-rigid hold on the state’s K-12 education system. That, the audit found, contributes to inefficiencies, higher costs and a lack of flexibility that hampers innovation and flexibility at the local level.
The report also suggests the state has too many bureaucrats, calls for removing the statutory barriers to schools providing at least 180 days of instruction each year, and urges more accountability of educators based on student achievement. It cites a need for flexibility in pay strategies to attract teachers in key subject areas or to schools in more rural areas. And it says the state can’t successfully compete for high quality teachers unless it boosts pay.
Vision Shared, which will be assisted by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, urges business, community and educational leaders and others interested in improving the performance of West Virginia students to attend one of the eight forums. …
— Distributed by The Associated Press