Public Works LLC of Pennsylvania did an exhaustive study of West Virginia’s public education system and made a host of recommendations two years ago.
The final report recommended changes that would have saved the state $115 million over a five-year period. As Rick Blaine said in the movie, “Casablanca,” this does not amount to a hill of beans as it represents less than 1 percent of school spending, which now stands at $3.5 billion per year.
But the report was not about money; it was about education. Repeatedly, the report called for returning control of the schools to the schools themselves.
“West Virginia should give principals more authority over their school, give them the resources to make that school work –- and then hold them accountable.” the Public Works report said.
And why not let teachers teach? They are the experts. Not only are they college-educated but most of them either have or are pursuing a post-graduate degree.
The system of legislative micro-management is not working. In a commentary in the Sunday Gazette-Mail, lawyer Charles McElwee of Robinson & McElwee PLLC, compared the test scores of 2003 to 2011’s scores:
* Our fourth-graders improved by 3.9 percent in math; the nation as a whole improved by 6.2 percent.
* Our eighth-graders improved 2.5 percent in math; the nation improved by 6.6 percent.
* Our fourth-graders dropped 4.8 percent in reading; the nation improved 3.6 percent.
* Our eighth-graders dropped 3.5 percent in reading; the nation improved 2.3 percent.
Central planning clearly failed in education in West Virginia. The Legislature needs to adopt more of the changes Public Works LLC recommended.
As voters prepare to go to the polls for next month’s primaries, voters should ask their party’s legislative candidates just what they intend to do about this.