CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia teachers don't seem to like most proposals in an out-of-state consultant's "education efficiency audit," according to a report given to state lawmakers Tuesday.
Teachers don't want merit pay. They don't believe student performance should be given more weight in their evaluations. They don't want seniority reduced as a consideration in hiring.
And they soundly reject giving principals more authority to hire and fire teachers.
"To give a principal carte blanche to hire and fire who they want is not an improvement to the [education] system," said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, which sponsored seven "educator forums" across the state to review the education audit.
The state paid West Chester, Pa.-based Public Works LLC to conduct the education audit. State lawmakers are reviewing the audit, which was released last year. About 300 people attended the forums in November.
According to WVEA's scathing nine-page report, teachers who attended the forums also oppose an audit proposal to allow "differential pay" - higher salaries for teachers who teach subjects such as advanced math and science in high schools. Teachers said it would be better to give salary hikes to all faculty members.
"People attending the forums were concerned about creating a divisive and competitive atmosphere if merit pay or differential pay were to be instituted," Lee said at Tuesday's House-Senate interim committee meeting.
Teachers also criticized recommendations to extend the school year and mandate 180 days of instruction, according to the report. At the forums, teachers said additional instructional days don't lead to improved student achievement. Instead, teachers believe the state should target student absenteeism.
West Virginia teachers also reject "Teach for America-type" programs that place recent college graduates - many without teaching degrees - in low-income schools. Teachers questioned whether such programs adequately prepare college graduates to work in classrooms.
Teachers also disagreed with the overall tone of the education audit. "The audit report seems to treat public education as a business," the WVEA report says. "There were several comments questioning whether the report authors have any experience in the public education field."