New Delegate David Evans is required to wear a coat and tie on the House floor, and he wonders why teachers and students aren't asked to dress more respectfully for the classroom.
Evans, R-Marshall, taught business education and social studies for 33 years at Cameron High School before his retirement, and he continues to coach track and cross country at the school. Improvements to the state's education system are expected to be among the main topics addressed when the Legislature convenes its 60-day regular session on Feb. 13.
"There's more to improving education than throwing money at it," Evans said. "We've gotten away from how we used to dress. Teachers used to look well - we wore coats and ties. Today, teachers don't look any different than students, and the students' dress needs to be addressed."
And with classes beginning at the new Cameron High School today, he would like to see students and faculty dressed up for the event.
"Legislators are expected to dress in a coat and tie every day," Evans continued. "If it's not important, why should we have to dress up and teachers don't? You get more respect if you're dressed better. ...
"As a teacher, if you dress better, you're also better with discipline," he added. "Every day for 33 years I always wore a coat and tie, and I never had a major problem with discipline."
State lawmakers likely will assess results of the Education Efficiency Audit of West Virginia's Primary and Secondary Education System as they craft legislation in 2013. Evans said he has yet to read the audit, but he believes legislators will look to upgrade technology in the schools and increase training opportunities for teachers.
He said as a teacher, he observed too many students who didn't have adequate reading skills. Such students get frustrated in class and often exhibit the most discipline problems, according to Evans.
"We need to get more kids into vo-technical education classes - especially for the coal mining and gas industries," he said. "A lot of kids are not made for college, but everyone is being pushed toward college."
In addition to education, Evans said lawmakers should focus on improving the state's roads.
"The ditch lines have not taken care of for a long time," he said of roads near his home. "The roadway doesn't drain properly, and they (natural gas drillers) are running big trucks over them - causing them to have problems."
Evans said a portion of the severance tax from natural gas production should come back to the county of origin to help with road maintenance.