Facts Should Rule Debate
Officials of West Virginia’s two teachers’ unions have made it clear they deeply dislike Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s school reform proposal. Fine. Debate the plan on its merits – but don’t try to kill it by using red herring tactics.
Some misunderstanding about the bill Tomblin sent to legislators was raised over a technicality. Before the governor’s office was able to straighten it out, many union teachers had been warned the proposal would eliminate their paid holidays during the school year. One newspaper even reported that, before quickly correcting itself.
Last week the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers sent each of its members a list of complaints about the Tomblin proposal. Among them was that it would eliminate the seven paid holidays teachers now enjoy.
But had the AFT not shot first and asked questions later, its officials would have learned there is no intention of depriving public school employees of the paid days off.
A section of state law requiring the paid holidays was not included in the governor’s bill – but was included in a proposed section of state code dealing with school calendars.
Had anyone involved bothered to ask, they could have learned that before becoming upset about the matter.
Any observer of politics in Charleston for the past couple of decades understands full well the uphill battle any major education reform bill faces. The misunderstanding over paid holidays is a reminder of how ready some special interests are to attack anyone who suggests rocking the boat. But all involved need to recognize foundational changes are needed in how education is administered in West Virginia – and that taxpayers who support schools are in no mood for obstructionism.