TWO WEBSTER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI RECEIVE ANITA HESS-PUGH FUTURE EDUCATOR SCHOLARSHIP

Two Webster County High School alumni have been awarded the Anita Hess-Pugh Future Educator Scholarship. WCHS Class of 2019 graduate Tanya Hammons and WCHS Class of 2014 and West Virginia University Class of 2019 graduate Samantha Stout received the scholarships at WCHS’ annual senior awards day. The scholarship, managed and endowed by the Webster County Education Association, will provide Hammons and Stout each with a $500 scholarship.

Read moreTWO WEBSTER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI RECEIVE ANITA HESS-PUGH FUTURE EDUCATOR SCHOLARSHIP

Good Things Happen in West Virginia’s Public Schools

As we gear up for the special legislative session dealing with what the governor calls education ‘betterment’, we need to remind our friends and neighbors about the good things happening each and every day in our public schools. Here are some talking points you can use.

  • Our public schools are succeeding but everyone would like to see them improve and all our students achieving at a high level. Our public schools are far more academically challenging than in the past and the expectations for our students are high. We recognize that all students progress at different levels. They come into our public schools with different levels of preparedness and they will not all be at subject mastery at the same time. Standardized tests scores are not valid indicators of student success.
  • When you look at the top tier of states in terms of student achievement they have several items in common. Two of the most significant are the percent of students in poverty and the educational attainment levels of adults. States with the lowest percentages of student poverty and the highest percentage of adults with college degrees tend to score higher in student achievement.
  • WV has one of the highest incidences of children living in poverty in the nation. While that does not prevent a child from achieving, it often means that students start more slowly and need additional services to reach their full potential.
  • Society’s problems do not stop at the doors of our schools and our children’s focus is disrupted by what is going on in their family and surroundings. Our students are facing the highest numbers ever for those living in foster homes and living with someone other than a parent.
  • Our highest achieving students are quite competitive when compared with their peers in student achievement. And when you compare the student achievement of WV’s kids living in poverty against students in other states living in poverty, our students score exceptionally well.
  • Poverty and generations of low levels of educational attainment cannot be overcome quickly. WV is making progress but without the proper supports it has taken more time than any of us would like.

 

What can help our public schools improve?

  • Charters, ESAs and vouchers take funding away from our public schools and give it to other entities. We should focus on investing in schools where 90% of our children go and not diverting money to other education/privatization schemes.
  • Not only are these items not proven to improve student achievement, but many are proven to be divisive and will actually do harm to existing public schools and students by taking much needed funding away from our public schools.
  • We must provide a great public school for every student in the state regardless of their zip code. Improving public schools requires more resources, not less. Every student deserves a quality, well- equipped school where they can learn, be inspired and thrive.
  • If we are serious about improving our public schools then let’s look at proven reforms. This means creating schools with inviting classrooms, a well-rounded curriculum, class sizes that are small enough for one-on-one attention and support services such as health care, nutrition and after-school programs for students who need them.
  • Our students need extended day and summer programs; alternative education facilities; expanded vocational education options; additional specialists, including special education teachers, school counselors, nurses and psychologists; and resources to help parents and guardians.
  • Everyone wants to improve our public schools and there are many proven ways to increase student achievement. Many of the items introduced as reform measures by our legislators are not designed to improve our schools or the schools of any state.
  • We should invest in the things that are proven to make schools great and help every student achieve to their peak potential regardless of their zip code.

Funding for public education:

  • Funding for public education continues to fall. During the 1990s education was 57% of the state budget; it has dropped to less than 46% today. If the legislature had maintained funding levels, then money would be available to maintain competitive pay, provide adequate classroom supplies, lower class sizes, hire support services in our schools and offer more programs to our students.
  • The funding formula for our public schools has not been significantly changed in the past 40 years. Yet, the issues that our schools deal with mirror the changes in society. We need to be able to add nurses, counselors, social workers, safety officers and others without subtracting from the number of teachers and service professionals allowed in the formula.
  • West Virginia has significantly reduced the number of school buildings in the state through consolidation. But regardless of the number of buildings, they must be adequately maintained. Leaking roofs and antiquated HVAC systems desperately need to be replaced but there is no money provided in the formula for many of those costly repairs. Our public school cannot continue to limp along without proper funding. Our students suffer from the poor upkeep/air quality.
  • Many of the changes to public education introduced in recent years actually take money away from our schools. Charter schools, vouchers and education savings accounts all take money from our already strapped local school systems in order to assist a small number of students.
  • Legislators continue to talk about giving tax breaks to businesses. Those tax breaks harm our students and our public schools by taking money from the school systems. This session legislators actually reduced the coal severance tax taking over $60 million out of the state’s budget. This is money that can be used to meet the needs of our students and our schools.

Charters, Vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs):

  • We need to improve our public schools and make quality education opportunities available to all students, not just a select few. To provide the opportunities for charters, vouchers and ESAs to a few select students, all public-school students will suffer as a result of decreased funding. Those programs will operate by taking much needed funds away from the county in order to fund the newly created program.
  • We should focus on investing in public schools where 90% of children go, not diverting money from them for the 10% who go to private or home schools.
  • After charters or vouchers or ESAs are created, and the funding is gone, our public schools are left without the state money but still have the same bills to pay. With systems struggling to make ends meet any additional loss of revenue would be devastating for the students and the programs offered.
  • Based on Census data, West Virginia ranks 50th in the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degrees and 50th in the percentage of adults with an advanced degree. If we are to attract industry, we must provide a highly skilled and quality workforce. Hampering our already struggling schools by taking away funding will harm our ability to attract businesses and further weaken our state’s economy.
  • Vouchers, charters and ESAs do not reduce public education costs. Actually, they increase costs by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems and their bureaucracies – one public and one public charter.
  • The term “education savings accounts – ESAs” is intended to deceive. It is not the type of account that parents can contribute their own money into (think of the Smart529 accounts). Instead, the money that goes into an ESA is money that has been reallocated from the public school budget.
  • Even with vouchers, most parents will not find it enough money for needed services or tuition at private schools for their children.

Legislative Update: Jan. 19

Rumors, Funding, & Data
Your help is needed! Over the weekend and early next week, we need you to talk to your legislators and urge them to oppose an omnibus education bill and run separate bills on each of the items. See more about the omnibus bill rumors below.

This Week’s Major Hubbub:

Before we begin, we must discuss the events this week where freshman delegate from our district, Caleb Hanna co-sponsored a bill to allocate approximately $10 million of state funds to the federal government to build President Trump’s Mexican border wall. Let’s be clear that such a bill is unequivocally unconstitutional under the West Virginia Constitution. The West Virginia Constitution states in Article 10, Section 5 that: “The power of taxation of the Legislature shall extend to provisions for the payment of the state debt, and interest thereon, the support of free schools, and the payment of the annual estimated expenses of the state; but whenever any deficiency in the revenue shall exist in any year, it shall, at the regular session thereof held next after the deficiency occurs, levy a tax for the ensuing year, sufficient with the other sources of income, to meet such deficiency, as well as the estimated expenses of such year.” Essentially the Legislature can only levy taxes and appropriate revenue from such taxes to pay for state debt and interest, fund public schools, and pay the annual estimated expenses in the state budget. Other sections of the state constitution give the Legislature the authority to appropriate money and levy taxes to maximize federal matching grants for public projects within the state and to allocate monies to political subdivisions within the state. Bottom line is that this bill will die a quiet death like so many other ridiculous bills. Unfortunately the fact that Hanna represents our district casts a shadow over us. 

Many people have been asking why Hanna would sign on to sponsor such a ridiculous piece of legislation when the state has so many pressing needs related to education, road maintenance, economic development, addiction treatment, job training, foster care, and more. You will have to ask him for yourself. Hanna has not made any public statements since this proposed legislation was first reported by MetroNews and the Charleston Gazette. His capitol office phone is: (304) 340-3916; his legislative email is: caleb.hanna@wvhouse.gov; and his office is located in Room 220E (east wing) of the capitol. 

Omnibus Education Bill Rumors Swirling:

A rumor picking up steam in the Senate is that leadership will introduce soon and ram through an omnibus bill trying to divide teachers, service personnel, parents, administrators, and community members in an attempt to kill off public education. First of all, an omnibus bill is a bill that contains a variety of issues and subjects. While these are common at the federal level, they are unconstitutional according to the state constitution when done at the state level. Article VI; Section 30 of the West Virginia Constitution clearly states that “no act hereafter passed shall embrace more than one object…” The WV Supreme Court has upheld that requirement in a number of their decisions.

Speculation is that the senate leadership will put a 5% pay raise and PEIA funding into the omnibus bill along with provisions allowing charter schools, eliminating seniority, allowing vouchers, education savings accounts, and privatization. Their hope is that by linking pay and PEIA to charter schools, seniority, etc., they will be able to divide all the eduction constituent groups and force moderate legislators to vote for it. Tell your Senators that an omnibus bill is wrong, and that legislation needs to be considered separately and passed on its own worthiness. Ask your delegates to oppose an omnibus bill and if one is delivered to them by the Senate to break it up and vote on each measure separately.

Just a refresher: education savings accounts are not like the SMART 529 program that many people use to save for their child’s college education. Education savings accounts would model the failed Arizona model where parents of students with special needs and IEPs would be allowed to pull their kid out of public school and receive the sum of the money that the county school district would receive to educate that child: approximately $7000. The parent would then be allowed to spend that money as they saw fit to educate their child with little to no oversight. 

Charter schools suck public school money and throw it to private schools and private, corporately-owned charter school companies to operate schools within counties. Charter schools routinely engage in de facto discrimination by not allowing students with disabilities, behavior problems, etc. to enroll. They also drain resources from the public school district in which they are located and they have been subject to a variety of frauds. Recently, WCHS purchased at a surplus auction some computer furniture and desks from a charter school in Akron, Ohio that was forced to liquidate due to a fraud investigation that found the school was enrolling students who didn’t exist, keeping graduated and transferred students on their rolls, and more to siphon more state and district tax dollars. That is one of the smaller cases of fraud that has encircled charter schools recently. Plus, numerous studies have shown that charter schools at best show no improvement on academic outcomes and at worst, decrease academic outcomes for students compared to public schools. 

State Aid Formula Revisions:The funding formula that provides most of the money for the operation of our public schools had not significantly changed in the last 30 years. Yet, the needs of our schools have drastically changed and the cost of everything associated with educating our students has gone up.From iPads to HVAC systems, the cost of providing a thorough and efficient education for our children has drastically changed. Couple rising costs with the societal issues that now exist in our schools and our system is stretched past its limits.The need for smaller classes; more aides, counselors, nurses and psychologists; alternative learning centers; etc. all require additional funding in the school aid formula.Yet at the same time we are in need of more funding to better serve our students; the percentage of the state budget devoted to education is at an all-time low. Money to our public schools comprised 54% of the state budget in the mid-90s. Today that figure is 42%.Over the last decade the state has given back $528 million through reduced taxes – mostly for businesses. And they are still proposing a repeal of the ‘inventory’ tax which is another $130-$140 million reduction in state revenue.Taxes on businesses are a very small cost of their overhead and it pays for public services that manufactures need such as schools, roads and public safety.The repeal of the inventory tax without a replacement revenue source will lead to loss of revenue for our public schools and local governments. It will cause cutbacks in services and harm our students.The tax breaks already given to businesses throughout the years simply shifts the burden of paying for our government to individuals. Personal income taxes account for 42% of the governor’s proposed budget. Together, the B&O tax, corporate net income tax and severance taxes account for only 13% of the state’s budget.WVEA opposed the repeal of the Business Inventory Tax and supports additional funding to our public schools to adequately provide for the needs of our students.

Data:

State Superintendent Steve Paine presented a data report to the House Education Committee that showed some positives for students and educators. Some of the highlights include:

WV is 1st in the nation in students who participate in breakfast at school

WV is 17th in the nation per capita in the percentage of Nationally Board Certified Teachers

WV is in the top 5 in the nation in our graduation rate. We are now at 90.2%

WV’s lower income students are scoring in the top 10 nationally when compared to similarly situated students in other states

Dr. Paine touched on our student’s perceived low scores on national tests. Paine stated that one of the stronger influences on student test scores is the academic attainment of the parents. WV ranks 50th in the nation inthe percentage of adults age 25-65 with a bachelor’s degree.

Dr. Paine also explained the priorities of the WVDE:

To increase math scores and the overall achievement for students of all grades

To lower the absent rates of students

To fund computer science courses in all high schools. This would make WV the first state in the nation to do so.

To support workforce readiness programs

To look at alternative education programs/options for elementary students

Education Bills Moving:

HB 2128 passed the House and is headed to the Senate. The bill allows state employees to be able to take paid leave to attend parent/teacher conferences. The bill’s sponsor is Delegate Caputo and it was his intent to have the bill apply to education employees also, but education employees are classified as county employees. Delegate Caputo will urge the Senate to make an amendment to the bill once it is taken up in committee in order to clarify his intent.

HB 2095 would allow 12th grade students in transitional program classes to take periodic exams to measure progress and eliminates the need to take an end of the year test again. It would allow colleges to look at these other tests and factors to determine the need for remedial courses. It is on the House floor.

HB 2378 would cause a teacher to lose their license if convicted of a crime that would require them to file as a sex offender. A sub-committee was created to discuss this bill. All further action on the bill has been postponed until the House Education Committee meeting Wednesday, January 23. Sub-committee members include Steve Westfall, Matthew Rohrbach, Jeff Campbell, Ed Evans, John R. Kelly, Chris Toney, Robert Thompson and Lisa Zukoff.

HB 2145 is the governor’s bill on teaching computer science in all state high schools. The bill would go into effect in the 2021 school year. The bill passed House Education and heads to House Finance.

SB 1 is the free tuition for community and technical college students. SB 1 is supported by the Governor and Senator Carmichael and has an estimated cost of $7 million. The bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Finance committee.

HB 2422 is the Celebrate Freedom Bill passed last year. Last year’s bill required educators teach the constitution during the week of September 11th. 2422 would still require the constitution be taught but give educators flexibility on when they decide to teach it. Delegate Hornbuckle also moved to amend the bill to include the emancipation proclamation as one of the historical texts taught during this time. Both the amendment and the bill passed the committee.

Keep Updated:

WCEA keeps a bill tracking list of education-related bills available through the Legislature’s website. This allows our members to read bills for themselves and keep tabs on things as they move through the process. 

Log in here. 
The username is: jmknotts
The password is wceamember

The list name is K12Education and please don’t modify things on it. 

Make sure you also follow WVEA Lobbyline. Lobbyline is updated nightly with a recap of the day’s events. 

You can also check out the WVEA’s weekly Legislative Update.

Please start contacting our legislators to let them know that we support and desperately need increased school funding, competitive pay and benefits, and a fix for PEIA. Let them know that we strongly oppose charter schools, vouchers, education savings accounts, eliminating seniority, and other things that detrimentally affect our kids. 

Senator Bill Hamilton:
bill.hamilton@wvsenate.gov
Room 223W (west wing)
Office Phone: (304) 357-7906
Home Phone: (304) 472-1966
Mobile: (304) 439-5261

Senator Greg Boso:
greg.boso@wvsenate.gov
Room 217W (west wing)
Office Phone: (304) 357-7973
Home Phone: (304) 872-1308
Business Phone: (304) 872-2911

Delegate Caleb Hanna:
Education Committee Member
caleb.hanna@wvhouse.gov
Room 220E (east wing)
Office Phone: (304) 340-3916

Looking Ahead at the Legislative Session

The 2019 Regular Legislative Session begins on Wednesday. That evening the governor will also present his State of the State address and proposed budget. To be perfectly honest, this will be another challenging legislative session. Many lawmakers in the majority and majority leadership are looking for some payback for last year’s strike. They have already announced they plan to introduce legislation that will weaken public education and harm some of our most vulnerable students. Through Senate President Mitch Carmichael’s appointment of Senator Patricia Rucker as the chair of the education committee, Senate leadership has also shown that they plan to waste no time in trying to ram these misguided and flat-out disastrous proposals through. 

In addition to fighting bad policy, we must also keep lawmakers’ feet to the fire to make good on their promises from the strike to find a dedicated, long-term funding solution to PEIA, improve educator salary and benefits, and increase funding for public education. 

This legislative session, it is critical that you stay informed about what’s happening in Charleston regarding public education. There will be times when WVEA leaders issue calls to action when bad bills start to move or when good bills stall. We must answer those calls to action by telephoning our lawmakers, emailing them, and even personally visiting them at the capitol if need be. 

It’s also critical that we are all informed with accurate information. Be wary of information that comes from non-reliable sources or hearsay on social media. For accurate information, check WVEA’s Lobbyline. Lobbyline is a daily briefing of the day’s events in the legislature regarding public education. It is posted nightly during the regular session. WVEA also publishes a weekly legislative update that can be found on their main website.

You can also sign up for text/SMS alerts and critical email blasts through WVEA. WVEA is active on social media and uses the medium to post breaking or important news. “Like” WVEA on Facebook and follow WVEA on Instagram and YouTube. Then share WVEA’s posts with your social media network to help spread the word. WCEA will also post regular legislative and policy briefings on their website and Facebook as well. 

In December, members of the WCEA Executive Committee and affiliated PAC Steering Committee met with our local legislators to talk about public education issues specific to Webster County. We spoke for over two-hours with State Senator Bill Hamilton and Delegate Caleb Hanna. It was made clear that Webster County educators will be watching their votes and policy actions closely and expect their full support for public education. Both lawmakers expressed support to find long-term funding solutions for PEIA, increasing salaries, allowing all employees regardless of hiring date to be able to use accrued sick days for PEIA at retirement and years of service, opposing vouchers and charter schools, increasing funding for school-based social support and mental health services, and more. Some of the local-specific items discussed included:
– Recruitment and retention issues for educators in sparsely populated counties like ours. Providing additional incentives like moving assistance, housing down-payment assistance, etc. and things that are similar to the private sector and federal agencies.
– Increasing opportunities for at-risk students at programs like Mountaineer Challenge Academy.
– Need for additional alternative education programs and resources at the middle and elementary school levels.
– Students being pulled from public school for homeschool to escape truancy or legal issues.
– Opposing the Tim Tebow Bill that would allow homeschooled students to participate in school-sanctioned sports.
– The many facilities issues in our county from the need for an auxiliary gym at the high school, HVAC concerns countywide, major renovations needed at Glade, safety upgrades at Webster Springs, and more.
– The desperate need we have for social workers and mental health help for our students.
– Funding to provide more CTE programs and opportunities.
– Funding state-mandated CTE co-curricular student organizations.
– Decreasing the local share of the state aid formula which leaves sparsely populated counties like ours with less local money to supplement services beyond state minimum levels.
– The need for Prevention Resource Officers at all schools.
– Keeping extra and co-curricular programs such as CCLC, GEAR UP, etc. once those grants expire.
– Ensuring available funding so students and parents don’t have to pay the tuition cost for dual credit and AP courses out-of-pocket. Webster County is one out of only two counties statewide that fully fund student dual credit and AP tuition costs.
– Fixing issues regarding ECCAT seniority. 
– Lowering class sizes across the board. Many core academic course sections at the high school have 35 or more students. There are also several elementary classes that are at maximum capacity. 

Senator Hamilton and Delegate Hanna encouraged all educators to keep the lines of communication open with him and to let them know your thoughts on bills that begin moving throughout the session. Senator Hamilton said the best way to contact him is to call his capitol office and leave a message saying your name, phone number, that you live/work in Webster County and are an educator, and your issue.  He said he hasn’t been assigned a senate wing office or phone number yet, but will pass it along as soon as he knows.

Delegate Hanna also said to call his capitol office and that as soon as he is assigned an office phone number that he will pass it along. Both also said they will be reachable on email as soon as their legislative emails are assigned.


Stop Carmichael from Ousting Ed Committee Chairman Kenny Mann

If you haven’t seen the news, Mitch Carmichael is considering replacing Ed Committee Chair Kenny Mann with Patricia Rucker. Mann has been a good supporter of public ed and teachers and it would be a shame to lose him as Ed Committee chair. Rucker’s views place her in the same ballpark as Robert Karnes. She homeschools her kids, is a proponent of vouchers and privatization, is in favor of loosening homeschool requirements to let homeschool kids be awarded the Promise Scholarship without meeting all the academic qualifications of public school kids, and more.

WVEA President Dale Lee met with Mitch yesterday and said it appears Mitch is going to back down on replacing Mann as Ed Committee Chair with Rucker. However, he said that there is a contingent within the republican senators that want to see Mann ousted as Ed chair because he voted initially for us on the 5% pay raise bill during last year’s strike. With that in mind, Dale said it’s still likely that Mitch could oust Mann. If that were to happen, then one of the people being considered to be Ed Committee Chair is Greg Boso. Remember that Greg Boso started the process to break the deal in committee that was supposed to end the strike by reducing the pay raise. He’s also championed and voted for charter schools, vouchers, privatization, and has voted for homeschool kids to be able to knock public school kids out of CTE programs within public schools. 

We need to flood Mitch’s phone and email with messages to keep Kenny Mann as Education Committee Chairman. If Mitch ousts him, it would cause serious damage to the progress we’ve been able to make over the past few years. He does have a full time secretary to take calls. 

Mitch Carmichael office: (304) 357-780

Mitch Carmichael email: Mitch.carmichael@wvsenate.org

PEIA Finance Board Schedules Public Hearings

The PEIA Finance Board has scheduled public hearings for the 2020 plan year (2019-2020 school year). The hearings are as follows:

Wednesday, December 12: Telephone Hearing
Dial: 304-410-0513, Conference ID: 304-410-0513
Conference will begin at 6:00pm

Thursday, December 13: Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, Beckley
Hearing Registration: 5-6pm
Public Hearing: 6-8pm

Monday, December 17: WVU Erickson Alumni Center, Morgantown
Hearing Registration: 5-6pm
Public Hearing: 6-8pm

Tuesday, December 18: Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center Little Theater, Charleston
Hearing Registration: 5-6pm
Public Hearing: 6-8pm

Wednesday, December 19: Holiday Inn, Martinsburg
Hearing Registration: 5-6pm
Public Hearing: 6-8pm

If you can’t attend a hearing in person, please submit comments to the Finance Board in writing to 601 57th St. SE, Suite 2, Charleston, WV  25304-2345, or via e-mail to: PEIAComments@wv.gov.  Comments are due by December 19.

Rally for PEIA

The November 6th election is right around the corner and we need to make sure that we elect leaders who are serious about fixing PEIA! Join us on Sunday, September 16th, the first day of the legislative interim session, as we kickoff the election campaign season! The rally begins at 2:00 on the capitol steps in Charleston. Be sure to let us know if you are coming by clicking on on and joining the rally Facebook page and help spread the word! The Rally for PEIA is sponsored by the WVEA, AFT-WV, WVSSPA, state employee associations and more.