West Virginia University education expert Erin McHenry-Sorber believes SB451, which allows for charter schools and Education Savings Accounts, is “curious legislation” for West Virginia, a state that has, since 2007, underfunded its public education system, and had the deepest cuts of any state in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Additionally, assistant professor Matthew Campbell notes that charter schools have lower standards for teachers, meaning those schools would house some of the least qualified teachers in the state.
“While cutting money to its public education system, state legislators are introducing privatization measures that would effectively take even more money from financially struggling schools. This, in turn, has the potential to lead to increased RIFfing, or layoffs, and thus increased job insecurity for educators in a state that is already experiencing a teacher shortage crisis. It is also noteworthy that the push for privatization is occurring at the same time urban districts across the country are striking over this very issue, and winning some victories. Finally, the push for charter schools in a predominately rural state seems counterintuitive, given that less than 11 percent of charter schools nationwide are located in rural areas, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.”
“There is ample evidence on the negative impact of underqualified teachers on the educational opportunities for students and on the way in which these individuals are far more likely to leave the career after only a year or two as compared to teachers with more adequate preparation. As my colleagues here at WVU and I have researched the state’s teacher shortage, we have come to find that many of these financial factors like salary, while important, are not close to a complete picture for what is causing issues with teacher recruitment and retention. And it would seem that the opposition to this bill by those closest to the work of education, even with those financial incentives presented, proves that. And people observing the events around this bill should take note.”
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CONTACT: Lindsey Kudaroski
WVU College of Education and Human Services
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