CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Thursday initial legislative response to his proposals for public education reform has been "pretty positive," and said the legislation should be introduced in the House and Senate by the end of next week.
"We'll be working with both education committees," he said. "Our staff sat down with [House Education Chairwoman] Mary Poling and her staff yesterday, and with Sen. [Robert] Plymale and his staff to go over the proposals."
Plymale is the Senate Education chairman.
Tomblin said there's been no pushback from the Legislature so far on any of the proposals.
"Obviously, there was a little concern over changes on hiring," he said.
Tomblin, in his State of the State address Wednesday, called for changes in standards for hiring and promoting teachers, saying that seniority should no longer be the decisive factor in hiring.
"Current hiring practices in our state do not guarantee the best teacher is the one actually selected for the job," he said in the address. "In fact, in many cases, it prevents otherwise good teachers even from qualifying for the job."
He said the initiatives proposed Wednesday will be enacted through a combination of legislation, and through policy changes by the state Board of Education.
"Some of it is going to be in legislation, and some of it is going to be through action of the state board," Tomblin said.
Issues such as special reading certification for elementary school teachers and implementation of the Project 24 computer-assisted learning program will be addressed by the Board of Education, Tomblin indicated.
In 2010, then-Gov. Joe Manchin twice failed to get his education reform agenda through the Legislature. Most of Manchin's agenda -- which included some more controversial proposals including allowing charter schools, requiring annual evaluations of teachers, and providing higher salaries for teachers in high-poverty areas and for math and science teachers -- died in the House Education Committee.
Tomblin's comments followed a ceremony Thursday to recognize Michael Funkhouser, an English teacher at East Hardy High School, as the 2013 West Virginia Teacher of the Year.
Funkhouser said he supports the governor's proposals for education reform, and said, "My message to teachers of West Virginia is to roll up your sleeves and keep working at it."Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.