Let’s put experienced legislators at the head of the class

West Virginia’s teachers have gone on strike twice in as many years because they were ignored by our leaders in Charleston. As legislative leaders prepare to revisit education this summer, it looks like the legislature still hasn’t learned their lesson.

After Delegate Danny Hamrick (R-Harrison) stepped down as Chair of the House Education Committee, Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) appointed his Majority Whip Paul Espinosa (R-Jefferson) to chair the committee.

While Espinosa has chaired the education committee previously, during the 2018 teachers strike, he has little experience in public education itself. At a time when West Virginians are uniting behind preserving public education, we need someone in the driver's seat who has been with teachers, parents and students on the frontlines.

Delegate Mark Dean (R-Mingo), the committee's vice chair, could have filled that role. As a principal of a public elementary school, Dean has real-life experience in our education system. So, why didn’t Hanshaw elevate him to chair?

As Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) said on MetroNews Talkline earlier this week“The problem is, (Delegate Dean) thinks for himself, not for ALEC.”

Speaker Hanshaw seems to be filling the roster with legislators he knows will be loyal to him and special interests who fund their campaigns and groups like ALEC, the organization that delivers pre-drafted, ultra-conservative legislation to state governments.

He’s leaving behind members of his own party who think for themselves and listen to their constituents.

Denisse Leon photo | unsplash.com