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W.Va. Board of Education, State Superintendent issue statement in opposition of amendment to change education rule-making

Release from West Virginia Board of Education:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) and State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch have issued a joint statement in opposition of House Joint Resolution 1 (HRJ1) currently under consideration in the West Virginia Legislature.

The bill would amend the State Constitution and bring the State Board of Education’s rule-making power under the authority of the State Legislature.

In the statement, the WVBE and State Superintendent provide a historical outline of the 1958 decision by West Virginia voters to give general supervisory authority of the public school system to the State Board of Education. The statement explains the amendment was “undertaken in response to a legislative commissioned study of West Virginia’s system of public education and was recognized as a necessary step to provide our state’s school with a governance model that is thoughtful, managed by a diverse group of experts and immune from the ebb and flow of politics.”

The governance by the non-partisan State Board of Education provides more than a consistent and stabilizing foundation for public schools, but also a panel of experts from diverse backgrounds that is connected to the teachers, students and families of the state. The Board is able to respond quickly to the needs of educators and students as has been most evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our entire focus is building and sustaining an effective and responsive educational structure around the teachers and students of our state,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “For example, we have been keenly aware of the needs of the education community during the pandemic and set up a process to quickly issue waivers as unforeseen circumstances arose. The Board, working with the State Superintendent, maintained open and ongoing communication with our counties to provide effective and responsive guidance during this difficult time. The proposed amendment would make this process less efficient and less responsive.”

“The school system requires the consistent and steady guidance the Board offers,” said Superintendent Burch. “We cannot subject our classrooms to the currents and turmoil of politics that are subject to change every two years. Our students and teachers rely on the steady governance that assures consistency, quality and equality. HRJ1 would inject disruptive partisan political discourse into the lives and learning of our students.”

HRJ1 would need to be passed by two-thirds of West Virginia Senate and is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. To read the full statement in opposition to HRJ1, click here.

For more information, contact Christy Day at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or [email protected].

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