State school panel feels citizens are an obstacle

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel        

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia Board of Education Commission on School District Governance and Administration displayed a disturbing lack of faith in the ability of West Virginians to make good decisions for themselves and their children this week, when they described the “electorate” as an obstacle to implementing recommendations from a recent report.

When the commission issued its report on possible changes to the 55 county school systems with the idea that it would increase efficiency and student achievement, it listed local school boards as a potential barrier to the proposed changes.

“In a large sense, we believe county boards must embrace a more refined role, concentrating on leadership of the school district as emphasized by monitoring and oversight and securing the information to reach West Virginia Board of Education objectives in terms of student achievement ambitions or goals,” the report said. “The transition of such a new, concentrated role will not be easy. Moreover, we question whether or not county boards – most county boards – will welcome such a role, given their position as locally elected political officials beholden to an electorate whose interests may not align with making the tough but essential decisions that must be made to advance their systems, including student achievement.”

State school board members will have a chance to review recommendations from the report, and it is likely any adjustments that require changes to policy and procedure would also require public input. Like it or not, for now, the folks in Charleston must, indeed, work with local school boards elected to represent those members of the public.

They would do well to set aside the dismissive attitude put forth in this report, and instead keep open minds about West Virginians’ interest in doing the right thing for their kids.

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