CHARLESTON – Senate Education Committee Chairman Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, today said she is disappointed that leaders of the state’s two teachers unions are committed to keeping Charleston’s centralized stranglehold on public education in place, at all cost.
On Wednesday, the leaders of the two major unions, Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, and Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia appeared on MetroNews “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval”. During the interview they doubled down on their opposition to local control, competitive teacher pay based on expanded criteria and addressing teacher shortages in critical needs areas.
Said Senator Rucker, “From the beginning, what we heard from the unions was that they objected to the comprehensive education reform legislation because they were standing up for the students. They said that it wasn’t about teacher pay. Today, I believe that union leaders put their cards on the table. It’s not about the students. It is about keeping Charleston’s grip on education keeping it centralized in the hands of the few. It is about disempowering counties, local jurisdictions and local citizens while keeping power for themselves”.
With Senate Bill 451 on hold, counties lost incentives to help attract and retain qualified teachers, including the ability to provide additional compensation to math teachers and other areas of critical need.
From the interview:
Kercheval: Would your organization get behind the empowerment to local counties…the empowerment of local counties to pay more for hard to fill positions…would you get behind that?
Fred Albert: It’s going to create hardships, or hard feelings, number 1, between educators….
Kercheval: Are you more concerned about the hard feelings of a teacher…or having that kid in a classroom with a certified math teacher?
Fred Albert: I’m very concerned that our students are not being taught by certified math teachers, I agree with that, but I think we’ve got to find other ways to do that.
Said Senator Rucker, “It’s clear from the interview that the leadership of the teachers unions are letting the teachers, students and parents down, exerting political power while offering no solutions”.
During the program Hoppy Kercheval attempted to discuss the proposed solutions contained in SB 451, the Comprehensive Education Reform bill, but Lee cut him off, telling him there was no point in discussing the bill.
“We have successfully killed this bill,” Lee said.
Said Senator Rucker, “the opposition to the bill by Dale Lee and Fred Albert is not surprising but it is disappointing. What is shocking to me is the unwillingness to discuss it. That is a failure of leadership”.
“I truly hope that parents understand that we may very well have the best teachers in the country right in this state. However, it’s impossible to know because their hands are tied by their representation”, said Senator Rucker. “Their leaders do not want to allow county Boards of Education to have local control over the process – they want it all to come from Charleston. This is a power grab that disenfranchises parents. We are one of only two states that administers their school system this way. It is a paradigm that has led to low levels of achievement that are simply unacceptable. I pray that they will open their hearts and minds to learning. Learning about ways this bill could have helped the people they claim to represent, and will re-order their priorities toward finding solutions that can help everyone – parents, teachers, administrators, and students – to achieve the goals to which we all aspire.” .