CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Earlier this week the Kanawha County Prosecutors Office said two teachers aides will face charges for failing to report child abuse and neglect in a special needs classroom. One of them has already been arraigned.
The charges are connected to abuse at Holz Elementary in former teacher Nancy Boggs’ classroom. Boggs was sentenced earlier this month to 10 years in jail in the case.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee says he wants to be clear that there is no excuse for abuse in the classroom or for looking the other way instead of reporting that abuse. While he couldn’t speak about the specific incident in Kanawha County he said teaching isn’t the only profession with a few bad eggs.
“We want it to never ever happen,” Lee said. “But it is not just in the teaching profession. It happens. Those are things that make the headlines and we don’t talk about the thousands of educators that are doing the job right across the state.”
Lee also said getting people to pick teaching as a profession can be difficult.
“It is a lot harder than people thought. It is a difficult job to maintain a classroom and reach every child,” he said. “Secondly it is the lack of respect and third is the lack of pay, when you can make more money in almost any other profession.”
Lee projects there will be 1500 positions across West Virginia without a certified teacher in them this school year and many other vacant spots as well.
“There’s a huge number of classroom aides, bus drivers, cooks, custodians that are not filled,” he explained.
He said more than the headlines about wrongdoing, in his opinion, things like state legislature’s influence when it comes to what and how to teach as well as low pay is what impact people’s decisions about taking those jobs.
“When I go to the Eastern Panhandle, I see billboards from Maryland that are advertising for West Virginia teachers to come over there where they get paid more,” Lee said. “So it is a national problem. We have to face it, and we have to figure out ways to bring people into the profession. Part of that is pay and part of that is getting the respect back.”