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Crafting New Policies for Education

By Staff | Mar 28, 2017

School teachers and administrators throughout West Virginia are in a sort of limbo regarding how the state will regulate public education.

Common Core curriculum is out. The Smarter Balanced standardized test is out. The A-F grading system for schools is out. In all likelihood, the Office of Education Performance Audits, a sort of inspector general for public schools, is out. The old state Board of Education is out, and so is former state school Superintendent Michael Martirano.

But what’s in?

There are a few answers to that. First, Gov. Jim Justice has appointed several new members to the state board. Men and women with hands-on experience in schools now hold a majority on the board. And last week, the board agreed to hire Steve Paine as superintendent. Paine held the post previously for a few years.

In terms of what they will teach and how they will teach it, educators remain in a state of uncertainty. The same goes for how the quality of public schools will be evaluated.

The sooner that changes, the better.

While the mantra in Charleston has been to restore local control to Mountain State schools, there is little evidence of that happening. In fact, the state Department of Education may be about to gain more control. That will happen if the semi-independent regional education service agencies are eliminated and the DOE is given responsibility for providing services now handled by RESAs.

By mid-April, this year’s package of new laws regarding schools should be on the books. At that point, Paine and state board members can begin debating new policies for everything that has been thrown out during the past few months.

Here’s hoping more thought goes into those policies than did into the failed ones of the past few years.