West Virginia Senate Passes Massive Education Reform Bill

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – “The disrespect that was shown last year to the teachers, service personnel and students,” said State Sen. John Unger, (D) Berkeley.

“Nobody is more important that our children in this state,” said State Sen. Sue Cline, (R) Wyoming.

The very heated and emotional debate went on for three hours. As with the committee vote, the full Senate vote was 18 to 16 in favor of the bill. While the bill has popular items such as a five-percent pay raise for teachers it also has items such as charter schools and educational savings accounts that proved very divisive.

“I admit there are some controversial things in that bill. But there’s also so much good in that bill that will bring more money to the local boards of education. And give them more power on the educating of more people in their county,” said  State Sen. Charles Clements, (R) Wetzel.

“There are certain things in this bill that are good and certain things that aren’t. And we feel the bill has moved too fast. There’s going to be problems along the way, problems into the future,” said State Sen. Roman Prezioso, (D) Marion – Minority Leader.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill, but the majority party prevailed.

“I ran on this when I decided to run for the State Senate. This is to me, a promise fulfilled,” said State Sen. Patricia Rucker, Chairwoman (R) Jefferson – Education Committee.

Last year teachers walked off the job for nine-days, and leadership is assessing its options this year.

Q: Might we see a scene like we saw here last year, with thousands of teachers?
“You know as an old coach, I don’t give my playbook out ahead of time, so!” said Dale Lee, President,  West Virginia Education Association. 

The debate also centered on whether courts might rule the bill unconstitutional, or not.

The next stop for the Education Bill is the House of Delegates. Many members here favor dividing the bill up into individual issues, instead of voting on them all as one massive Education Bill.

You can read the full text of the bill here.

You can see who voted for and against the bill here.

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