CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia teachers unions resumed their attack on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's sprawling education reform bill Tuesday, alleging it wouldn't improve student achievement.
Judy Hale, president of the West Virginia Federation of Teachers, said reducing the number of faculty senate days, limiting teacher planning periods and stripping teachers of seniority privileges aren't the prescription to fix what ails West Virginia schools.
"This bill defies logic, and it defies research," Hale told state lawmakers.
Senate Education Committee members plan to vote on a substitute version of the governor's bill (SB359) on Thursday. Tomblin aides have been meeting with state school board members, state Superintendent Jim Phares, and organizations that represent teachers, principals and county school boards this week.
The revised bill is undergoing changes and hasn't been introduced.
"We haven't seen the committee substitute [bill]," said Senate Majority Leader John Unger. "I'm sure whatever we get won't be perfect, but I expect we'll pass an education reform bill this session."
Teachers remain wary, even if Tomblin revises the bill and incorporates some of their suggestions.
Under Tomblin's bill, for instance, faculty senate meetings would be cut from six meetings to one a year, Hale said. Teacher planning periods -- used by teachers to prepare lessons and meet privately with parents and students -- would be reduced from an hour to 30 minutes, she said.
"Studies have shown that increasing opportunities for teacher collaborations leads to increased student achievement," Hale said.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, criticized Tomblin's 179-page bill for changing teacher-hiring practices.
The legislation de-emphasizes the role seniority plays in hiring. Principals would have more say over faculty picks.
"No one has shown me the current system doesn't provide the most qualified person for the classroom," Lee told lawmakers.
Lee said Tomblin's proposal would make teacher hiring too subjective. "Grievances will run rampant in a system like this," he said.