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WV school chief speaks bluntly about teacher crisis

Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo Michael Martirano, West Virginia superintendent of schools, is shown in this 2014 file photo.
Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo
Michael Martirano, West Virginia superintendent of schools, is shown in this 2014 file photo.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a very direct address, state Superintendent Michael Martirano told business and political officials Tuesday morning that more needs to be done to attract qualified teachers to West Virginia schools.

During his speech, which was given as part of the South Charleston Chamber of Commerce’s annual Groundhog Day Breakfast, Martirano said below-average teaching salaries and the ongoing budget issues with the Public Employees Insurance Agency make it difficult for the state to attract the type of educators it needs.

“When our salaries are number 47 in the country, I am handicapped and crippled,” he said.

According to information from the Department of Education, there are about 593 teaching positions in West Virginia that are filled by educators who aren’t fully certified, including 231 special education, 64 math, 26 science and 21 English positions. McDowell County alone has about 70 positions that don’t have a fully qualified staff member in place, Martirano said.

“You should be moved by that,” he told the local and state business leaders. “We have a major crisis and I am not one to ring the bell and use the C-word lightly…

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