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Education advocates unhappy with recent legislative session

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Representatives of county school boards in West Virginia, principals, and teachers used Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the state Board of Education to express their disappointment in the recent session of the Legislature.

David Gladkosky, executive director of the West Virginia Professional Educators, spoke to state Board of Education members Tuesday morning regarding the 2024 legislative session that began Jan. 10 and ended March 9.

Looking back at the 60-day session, Gladkosky could only point to completed legislation that provided pay raises for teachers and school service personnel, creating a multi-tiered system for school absenteeism, and a bill creating a teachers bill of rights as examples of bills that could help educators.

“The word that comes to my mind that I have to say and have to think of is the word ‘disappointment,’” Gladosky said. “It makes me think that education in West Virginia isn’t in any better shape at this point than it was before the session.”

“We finished a 60-day legislative session that was aggravating, tiring, disappointing, miserable,” agreed Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association which is in the process of merging with the other teacher’s union organization in the state, the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

A bill allowing teachers to bank unused personal leave days to enhance their retirement benefits never made it out of the House, and no bills providing a cost-of-living increase to retired teachers and school staff or providing incentives for hiring special education teachers and staff made it over the finish line.

One bill Gladosky said he was disappointed didn’t pass was either the House of Delegates or state Senate bills dealing with student discipline in kindergarten through sixth grade.

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