• Incorporate more digital learning into classrooms.
• Focus on reading skills in the first three grades, which is crucial for coming years of learning.
• Help county school boards lengthen the school year, which averaged only 170 days last term. Absurdly, he said, "a snow day counts as an instruction day."
• Reduce bureaucratic administrative overhead in 55 county school systems, because student population has dropped one-fourth during the past 30 years.
The governor didn't mention Teach for America volunteers, who want an opportunity to fill vacancies in rural West Virginia classrooms -- but he said the state Board of Education is developing a new system of teacher accreditation. We hope the new method overcomes teacher union objections and lets the idealistic young volunteers work in this state.
During his mandate to the Legislature, Tomblin seemed to call for more responsibility to be shifted onto local school boards -- but that's unwise, because several county boards already perform so badly that they have been seized by the state board. We doubt that much improvement can be gained at county level.
These are heavy challenges for the coming 60-day session. We hope legislators face them without becoming distracted by shallow emotional issues that waste time, energy and taxpayer dollars.