CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Governor's education proposals are misguided and deeply troubling.
Unfortunately, instead of focusing on factors that contribute to successful schools and students, Gov. Tomblin is pursuing policies that seem to focus on being punitive to our educators. As a parent of a public school student I want our educators and school staff to know that they are appreciated, that the work they do is vitally important and we as a community understand that, that I'm grateful for their hard work and the long hours they give beyond the school day to make our students' classroom experience more fulfilling and sometimes, dare I say, even fun.
Yet, the governor's proposals do not celebrate educators. Quite the contrary. The proposals by Gov. Tomblin are an insult to the hard-working professionals who educate our children. For example, there is absolutely no evidence, none, zero, that young, inexperienced college graduates from Teach for America could produce the results that our certified, experienced teachers (meaning those with seniority) do. Experience is a good thing and valued in most professions. When choosing someone to deliver a service, experience is one of the factors considered.
What works for improving student achievement in the school environment are a low student to teacher ratio and having a quality, experienced teacher. Because while the enthusiasm and eagerness that new teachers bring to the class are fine attributes, they are no substitute for classroom veterans who integrate new technology while also utilizing the tools they know from experience to be effective.
Gov. Tomblin must not make this more complicated than it is. Support teachers through pay that corresponds with the task we ask of them. Provide more planning time, not less. For what other profession do we signal that while we value their service we are unwilling to compensate them for it? Similarly, where was the proposal for a pay increase? West Virginia is in the fortunate position of having a budget surplus. According to the administration, in matters of student achievement, "... what we're doing isn't working." Well, then instead of continuing down the same, worn path of blaming and demeaning teachers, while demanding more from them and providing less, do something bold. Reward them.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 76 percent of public school teachers are women. The Governor's proposals indicate a complete lack of respect for the teaching profession and a paternalistic attitude. Spend time in a public school, volunteer to help in the library, the book fair, or the office. Prepare and execute an activity for 20 spirited elementary students. Perhaps this will provide much needed perspective. Not everyone can do it. But for those who choose to dedicate their careers to educating our youth we should offer them nothing less than appreciation.
Tell legislators you support our public school students and teachers. Contact Robert Plymale, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, 304-357-7937, robert.plym...@wvsenate.gov; Eric Wells, vice chairman, 304-357-7841, eric.we...@wvsenate.gov; Mary Poling, chairwoman of the House Education Committee, 304-340-3265, mary.pol...@wvhouse.gov; and Josh Stowers, vice chairman, 304-340-3337, josh.stow...@wvhouse.gov.
Barkey is a mother in Winfield.