Senate President Mitch Carmichael penned a recent opinion piece in the Sunday Gazette-Mail entitled "A New Era for WV Education." Instead, we think it should be called "A New Error in Education."
Sure, West Virginia is in the minority of states when it comes to charter schools. We’ve looked around and have seen the enormous waste of public school dollars that other states have experienced and, until now, have decided not to go that route.
Only through extraordinary procedures and bypassing regular committee processes were charter schools foisted upon our state. Teachers, support personnel, school boards and a two-thirds majority of citizens who showed up at the many town halls all opposed charter schools in the Mountain State.
Why then did statehouse leadership work so hard to push this when we didn't want it? Whose outside national agenda were they working from?
Our policy makers should be making laws for the benefit of all the people of West Virginia, not just ones that want to take our public school dollars to pay for private and religious education for their kids. Or for the profit-seeking charter school industry.
Sure, our schools need improvement. And sure, this education reform bill has some things in it for teachers and students. But the only way the political leaders in the statehouse could pass charter schools was to bundle them with other good things. Even then they had to break their own rules to get it passed.
If it was such a good idea, why could it not pass on its own?
At a time when other states are pulling back and reigning in charter schools, West Virginia is plowing ahead to make some of the same mistakes made elsewhere.
Voters should remember next election which lawmakers listened to them—and who ignored them.