CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The debate is fierce in the West Virginia Senate, over a 140-page Education Reform Bill. It includes popular items such as another 5% pay raise for teachers and a fix for their health insurance. But it also contains controversial items like allowing charter schools, creating education savings accounts, and weakening the seniority system for education employees.
Educators called a new conference to say they were never allowed to give testimony.
“We cannot find a West Virginia parent; a West Virginia teachers; a West Virginia service personnel; a West Virginia principal, a county school superintendent who was consulted about this bill,” said Fred Albert, WV American Federation of Teachers
But Republican leaders say it’s aimed at making education better.
“Charter schools, really? They have them in 44 other states and every one of those states has higher student performance than in West Virginia,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson – Senate President.
Last year teachers in all 55-counties walked off the job for nine days and the option of another walkout is possible. Many believe this bill is retaliation.
“The Senate leadership is using this bill as a way to exact revenge for the actions of our educators this past spring,” said Dale Lee, WV Education Association.
“That’s just a reach for someone that wants to construe this is against the bill primarily. It’s no retaliation,” said State Sen. Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson.
OOriginallythe bill was assigned to the Finance Committee, but now the entire Senate will consider it, as one committee of the whole.
The Senate President says once the Senate considers the Education Bill as a whole committee, leaders from the teacher’s unions and other educaors will be allowed to testify.