CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The House chamber was packed for the first hearing, which began at 8 Monday morning. Dozens of educators, parents, administartors and lawmakers all debated both for and against the bill. The biggest concerns remain about school choice and items such as Education Savings Accounts and charter schools.
“An attck on all educators as you work to devalue our certification and allow charter schools to hire non-certified induviduals. An attack on our already financially-strapped school systems who struggle each day,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, Mingo County Educatuion Association.
Last years teacher walkout did not sit well with some parents who want reforms.
“And I fully support Senate Bill 451 as it was provided for the House. My senior last year lost 11 instructional days. And yet the unions and special intyerest groups fail to mention this,” said Theresa Howe, a school parent.
Over the weekend, teachers and school personnel voted to let their union leaders take unspecified action, if the bill passes. One of the biggest concerns is over education savings accounts, knowns as ESA’s. They were removed by the House Education bill Friday night, but could be reinstated in the bill
“Well our activists across the state are urging lawmakers to add back in ESAs. It will be a provision franky that will empower students, parents and educators to innovate in the education space like never before,” said Jason Huffman, from Americans for Prosperity.
“What it does is that it takes money out of the public schools and sends it to the private, for-profit sector. Ans it does it in a way that’s not going to benefit the people it is supposedly supposed to help,” said Sean O’Leary, from the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy.
As of now, the bill only allowes for a pilot prohram of two charter schools in West Virginia
Even after the two public hearins are over, the debate will not be done. This bill must still go through the House Finance Committee, the full House for a vote, and then back to the Senate with any proposed changes.