We applaud those positive thoughts, but the chamber's quest to improve student achievement will not end until action is taken. Last year's comprehensive audit of our bureaucratic system must serve as a blueprint for action, not as a dust collector on a shelf in the back room.
We call on elected officials, school board members and West Virginia Department of Education staff to create higher expectations and demand better performance not only from our students, but from our teachers, our administrators, and our entire communities.
Specifically, we need:
* Capable, committed teachers allowed to encourage thinking and not be concerned about just test results, and principals free to be educational leaders, not just paper-pushing disciplinarians.
* Creativity and flexibility that permit local communities to determine the best way to set a school calendar and hire the most qualified teachers.
* Students who receive individualized educational opportunities that allow them to build on their strengths rather than being beaten down by their weaknesses.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce has a history of bringing people together to solve complex problems, and we stand ready to work collaboratively again in this case. Regardless, however, we will push for the significant changes necessary to immediately allow both teachers and students to do what they yearn to do: teach and learn.
Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.