By September 12, 2017 Read More →

Opinion: Why the secrecy on school plan?

The Weirton Daily Times

Let us hope Gov. Jim Justice takes a good look, on the public’s behalf, at a proposed plan for how West Virginia schools will be managed in the future. We’ll all have to rely on Justice because, apparently, we’re not allowed to see the plan.

State Board of Education members, in a unanimous vote, on Friday approved a plan required by the federal government under the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is a comprehensive blueprint for how schools will be operated and how the state will exercise oversight.

Included in the new plan is a strategy for holding local schools and county boards of education accountable. It is to replace the current A-F grading system.

To their credit, state education officials held public hearings on the plan and solicited opinions from West Virginians. The unanimous vote in favor of it gives us some hope the document is a good strategy to move Mountain State schools forward. It must be approved by the governor, then by the U.S. Department of Education.

A Charleston reporter asked last week for a draft copy of the plan, which includes changes from the version considered previously and made available to the public for comment.

But on Friday, the reporter wrote, state officials did not provide him with a copy of the draft plan. He added that a copy will be provided after Justice signs off on the plan.

So, the governor can see it but educators, parents and others concerned about the future of public schools can’t?

That is a decision that should be reversed before Justice announces his decision on the plan.

Yes, the public had opportunities to comment — but not on the new proposal. And no, the process of hearing concerns, accepting suggestions and making revisions cannot be allowed to continue forever.

But what would it have hurt to give the public one last chance to consider a very important piece of public policy?

This is not the first time state education officials have demonstrated a penchant for secrecy. Why?

They are our schools, after all.

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