CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) – Protesters were making their voices heard outside the House Chamber, but inside on the House floor, parents, teachers and students were airing their opinions on how to improve education in West Virginia. The sharpest divide: “for” and “against” charter schools:
“Each student learns differently, at a different pace and in different ways, and under different circumstances. We just need to find their genius. One size does not fit all,” said Kathie Hess Crouse, who supports charter schools.
“Charter schools do not improve student outcomes. That they are categorically discriminatory against children with low socioeconomic status and students of color,” said Jenny Craig, of the Ohio County Education Association.
In a compromise, the number of proposed charter schools began at unlimited in the Senate; then were capped at 10 in the House; and, now are down to perhaps just three.
“We have been in close communication with the Senate and the Governor’s office, and certainly hopeful that we’ll be able to act this meaningful education reform legislation for our parents and students,” said Del. Paul Espinosa, Chairman, (R) Jefferson – Education Committee.
That issue aside, other lawmakers are pushing for millions more for mental health and school counselors.
“I am a teacher at Wayne High School. I’ve had students who have lost parents, maybe both parents in some cases, to drugs. And you can’t expect a child to perform adequately,” said Del. Robert Thompson, (D) Wayne.
There is bipartisan support for more student counselors.
West Virginia teachers have gone on strike in each of the past two years. WOWK 13 News Chief Political Mark Curtis asked many of these educators if they are willing to walk off the job again if dissatisfied by the legislature and most of them said yes.