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W.Va. legislative bills reducing teacher, homeschool scholarship requirements advance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates is scheduled Monday to take up possible amendments to a bill (HB4407) that would erase the requirement that those wanting to become teachers through alternative certification must already have an “academic major or occupational area the same as or similar to the subject matter” they wish to teach.

House Education Committee members advanced that bill last week with a divided voice vote.

Also last week, the Senate Education Committee advanced legislation (SB319) that would eliminate the current requirement that homeschooled students must earn a high school equivalency degree, which can be obtained through the GED and TASC tests, to be eligible for the state’s Promise Scholarship. The bill wouldn’t lower the ACT or SAT score requirement for eligibility.

SB319, which now heads to the Senate Finance Committee, passed out of Senate Education on a voice vote with no nays heard. Sen. Patrica Rucker, R-Jefferson, is the lead sponsor, and with 14 co-sponsors, including Democratic Sens. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, and John Unger, D-Berkeley, about half the 34-member Senate is sponsoring it.

The Senate also passed 20-13 Friday a bill (SB335) that would require school employee union members to annually re-agree to have part of their county public school system-issued paychecks withheld to pay union dues. Senate Education Chairman Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, and Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, joined all 11 Democrats in attendance in voting no. Plymale was absent for the vote. That bill now heads to the House.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said it would require his union to “spend an exorbitant amount of time every year going back to every member and getting the re-authorization,” while Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur and the bill’s lead sponsor, said “this is to make sure that people are very well aware of where their money is going,” including to political activities.

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