CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every study finds that American students lag behind youths in most other advanced democracies -- and West Virginia students fall below U.S. averages.
One report puts the Mountain State equal to Bulgaria in 15-year-old math proficiency. The American Institute of Physics rates West Virginia 49th in "science and engineering readiness."
Elevating this state's youths to the high-tech level needed for the new Information Age is a monumental challenge -- but Gov. Tomblin asked the 2013 Legislature to tackle it. In his State of the State address Wednesday night, he warned:
"Our student achievement is falling behind . . . . Many of our scores have slipped lower over the past decade . . . . Our graduation rate is only 78 percent, which means almost one in four school students do not graduate on time . . . . We have the highest percentage of young people ages 16 to 19 not engaged in school or the work force."
All those conditions are "not acceptable," he declared. He urged lawmakers to adopt these proposed reforms:
• Expand the state's preschool classes for 4-year-olds -- now utilized by two-thirds of eligible tots -- until all kids are covered.
• Upgrade vocational training in all schools to prepare youths for expanding technology jobs.