West Virginia BOE passes charter school policy

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The West Virginia state board of education passed two policies at Wednesday’s meeting that have been the center of education controversy.

The Charter School Policy comes from House Bill 206 which was passed last legislative session. It was the same bill that sparked rage in many teachers across the state and was a major factor in the 2019 teacher strike. The policy also came after a costly 2019 special session of the legislature.

During the 60-day public comment period, the policy received 510 total comments most of which were against charter schools.

Critics say charter schools are taking away teaching jobs because they don’t require college degrees. Those supporting charter schools say hiring educators with alternate teaching certifications, rather than degrees, gives them more flexibility.

“We did speak with individuals that were in strong support charter schools and tried to get some best practices in the policy so if a charter school is established is has the greatest chance for success as possible,” says Sarah Stewart with the Government Affairs Council.

The decision to establish charter schools will fall under individual county boards of education and only 3 are allowed in the state during the initial introduction of the policy until 2023.

Another policy receiving scrutiny was updating school credit requirements to allow them to be more flexible in getting kids interested in professional careers.

“We actually did revisions on our middle school programs we tried to make them more flexible and create more career awareness in there,” says Jan Barth the assistant state superintendent for the division of teaching and learning.

The board also approved changing “required” course work to “prescribed” and “personalized” course work that will provide guidance while allowing individuals to choose courses that benefit their interests.

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