But as we have suggested in the past, lawmakers should be more worried about voters who are fed up with the lack of progress in improving Mountain State schools.
Don’t blame Gov. Joe Manchin. He has pushed for school reform for years. During the past eight months he made it a priority, calling legislators into special session twice. Both times he was turned down flat. ‘‘We stepped forward as hard as we could ... and we still got nothing,’’ Manchin told a Charleston newspaper recently.
For several days it appeared the deadlock over education reform might finally have been broken. Members of a special legislative committee appointed by Manchin to work out disputes over his proposals seemed optimistic. Then the governor’s package was taken up by the full Legislature. Except for a few pilot programs and studies, lawmakers did nothing.
We know of a few legislators who had honest disagreements with the governor’s proposals. While we do not necessarily agree with them, we respect them for standing on principle.
Still, we do not believe the governor was shut out solely because of policy disagreements. The teachers’ unions’ history of success in badgering and yes, sometimes bullying lawmakers is too long for us to believe they did not play a major role. Legislators are back home now — and many are facing re-election campaigns. We urge those asked to vote for the incumbents to ask how they stand on school reform — and what they did or did not do to advance it during the special sessions.
If the answers are not satisfactory, it may be time for changes in the Legislature. Perhaps lawmakers need to learn a lesson about the power of independent-minded voters who want real change.