WV Legislature debates controversial education reforms

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On a 60-to-30 vote, the House of Delegates passed a bill creating “Hope Scholarships.” That’s just another name for Education Savings Accounts or ESAs, where parents could set aside a portion of their public tax dollars, to pay for private schools. Aside from ESAs, the Republican majority wants to expand charter schools from 3 to 10; and create a way to punish teachers who go on strike.

“The overall goal, I want to increase accountability and student and parent choice. I want to provide more options in our educations system. And I want to make sure we are providing a good education to every single child,” said State Sen. Patricia Rucker, (R) Jefferson – Education Committee Chair.

Teachers went on strike in 2018 and 2019, and some of these proposed reforms were to blame, along with low pay. Now that Republicans have super-majorities in both chambers, Democrats say these bills are just payback.

“It really seems like retribution, like they are coming back against the teachers for standing up for their rights to get, you know, a lousy five-percent raise after not getting a raise for five years in this state. The charter schools are just a way to de-fund public schools,” said State Sen. Mike Romano, (D) Harrison.

A 1990 Supreme Court ruling said teacher strikes were illegal in West Virginia. But no teachers were punished for walking off the job two and three years ago.

“Some of these education bill have passed the House, while other passed the Senate. As always, they must be approved in both chambers before we’ll find out if Governor Justice will sign them,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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