CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the lust for power and rank cronyism corrupt decision making, it is time for change. The deplorable antics of the state Board of Education members reveal the underbelly of the appointment process.
Allowing the governor to appoint state board of education members puts another layer of political cronyism on our already highly politicized educational system. These appointments are political paybacks for campaign support and an investment in political control of the State Department of Education.
A different approach is needed to restore confidence in state Board of Education members: Legislators should mandate that members of the educational community, rather than the governor, appoint Board of Education members. To obtain a balance of labor and management and inclusion of all interested parties, I offer the following proposal.
Each of the following seven groups shall elect/appoint a member of the state Board of Education to serve a four- year term. That elected member can serve as many terms as elected and should come from the organization itself if possible. The seven appointing groups should consist of:
• West Virginia Education Association, a non-union classroom teacher organization
• American Federation of Teachers, a classroom teachers' union affiliated with the AFL-CIO
• West Virginia Service Personnel (secretaries, cooks, bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance crews, nurses, etc.)
• Statewide Principal's Association
• County Superintendent's Association
• County School Boards of Education Association
• Parent Teacher Association or other recognized parent organizations
Together these educational organizations and their appointed Education Board members would offer "reality-based experience" to solve the challenges affecting educational delivery.
A state Board of Education which has been appointed from our education community should decide which state superintendent of schools candidate is best for our children's future rather than lawyers and business people with vested interests.
I implore Gov. Tomblin to rectify this unjust situation by introducing legislation or instituting the proposal by Executive Order to implement this much needed change. Pull out the "process of corruption" and "sow seeds of integrity" instead so that our state Board of Education can regain its respectability.Pritt, former state senator and delegate from Kanawha County, is chairwoman of the Mountain Party and an educator with more than 30 years of experience.