CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Businesses large and small know education plays a vital role in the economic fabric of our communities, state and country. They know that a solid public educational system is necessary to provide a strong workforce that will help their business grow and prosper.
That's why earlier this year, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce called upon Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and our legislative leaders to work with teachers, businesses and others statewide to fix public schools in our state. Overhauling our system is a mammoth task. Yet, it is a challenge that state Board of Education President Wade Linger faced head on. He was instrumental in helping our governor and lawmakers make the first of what promises to be many fundamental changes in West Virginia public schools with this year's passage of the governor's education agenda, Senate Bill 359. In addition, he has worked to implement the state board's response to the governor's education efficiency audit to raise educational quality in the state.
Linger's two-year term as state board president ends this month. As he passes the gavel to the next president, he leaves behind a steadfast focus on creating an educational system for West Virginia that is second to none.
Under Linger's guidance, the state Board of Education has experienced a new beginning as the general supervisor of public education in West Virginia. He has helped make education more transparent and open to change as well as tried to immerse different stakeholder groups in transforming education. Because of Linger's leadership, the board has strengthened relationships with the governor and the Legislature, and forged new partnerships with the state Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and other education groups.
Linger also has embraced efforts to integrate technology to expand and enhance student learning. He has been a strong supporter of broadband access that gives our students access to the same computer-based tools as any other student in the country, or even the world. And that's a game-changer for West Virginia.
As stewards of the state's educational resources and advocates for public education, the West Virginia Board of Education takes on one of the most important responsibilities that can be assigned to any citizen: helping to plan the education of our state's youth. Education is the foundation of equality, a promise to our children that they will have the opportunity to succeed.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses firmly believe that teachers want to teach and students want to learn. We encourage the board to continue to follow the foundation that Linger has provided to let that happen.
Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.