Stop Postponing School Solutions

No one has a crystal ball capable of predicting the outcome of the dispute between West Virginia’s three school personnel unions and the state Legislature.

But there is one reasonably sure bet: Regardless of what happens regarding salary, health insurance and other disagreements at hand, the fundamental problems of Mountain State public education will remain firmly in place.

Consider two things that have occurred during recent weeks: Grading scales for students and the amount of work they have to do to graduate from high school have been revised downward. In addition, requirements to become certified to teach in our state have been relaxed.

That is no way to make our schools better.

At some point, foundational changes need to be made in how our schools are run. It is apparent we really do need to get back to the basics — and that means a system in which the priority is encouraging teachers to teach, not to jump through a blinding array of bureaucratic hoops.

In addition, we need to get our financial house in order. As we have pointed out, state legislators should cut the waste and inefficiency out of government. That would free up money to pay our teachers better.

Reforms are needed at the Public Employees Insurance Agency, which provides health insurance to nearly 80,000 active and retired government personnel, including teachers.

For a few brief hours last week, it appeared that necessity might be tackled. Establishment of a task force to improve the PEIA was discussed. Then, all too quickly, the talk turned to a task force to address only state funding of the agency.

Health insurance costs simply must be gotten under control. Doing nothing but ensuring that whatever those expenses are, taxpayers will cover the lion’s share is not an answer.

So much needs to be done to rebuild West Virginia’s public education system. But as matters stand, it appears the only thing that will happen this year is a resolution — one way or another — of the work stoppage by teachers and school service personnel.

What does that teach our children? At all costs, avoid really tackling your problems. Just slap a Band-Aid on them and pretend you have worked a cure.