Legislative Update: January 10-19       

A key component of the Education Alliance's mission is to foster dialogue between leaders and stakeholders on issues affecting public education. The Education Alliance believes that public education is strongest when input from all stakeholders is valued and partners feel welcomed into the process. Our students and our state deserve an active and engaged public. To support this goal throughout the 2018 Legislative Session, The Education Alliance will be publicly sharing our weekly legislative updates.  The following update is for January 10-19, 2018.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE

The two major discussions within the Senate Education Committee this week centered around the Tim Tebow Bill (S.B. 130) and the Governor’s Bill on Increasing Access to Career Education and Workforce Training (S.B. 284).

  • SB 130 Tim Tebow Bill PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE permitting private and home school students to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school. A similar bill was passed by both chambers last session but was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
  • SB 284 Increasing Access to Career Education and Workforce Training While S.B. 284 is still under consideration in the Senate Education Committee, the topics addressed in the bill, which would increase access to career education through the establishment of Advanced Career Education (ACE) programs and the WV Invests Grant Program, dominated much of the conversation within the Senate Education this week.  This bill is Governor Justice’s major education priority for the session and is being championed by President Carmichael. Because of the strong support for this bill by Senate Leadership (and of many Senate Democrats), the bill is widely expected to pass quickly through the Senate. The Senate Education Committee began discussions this week and will continue where it left off next Tuesday at 2:00 pm.

OTHER BILLS PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE S.B. 62: allows counties to hire persons with professional administrative certificates and five years of experience as attendance directors.

SENATE GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION

  • PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE S.B. 267: authorizes a 1% pay raise for teachers, school service personnel, and WV State Police

HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE

The two major decisions and discussions within the House Education Committee this week were the elimination of the WV Department of Education and the Arts and the constitutional amendment to elect members of the WV Board of Education and provide WVDE rule-making oversite to the Legislature.

  • H.B. 4006 PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE eliminates position/office of Cabinet Secretary of Education and the Arts and reassigns existing divisions and initiatives to other Departments/areas of State Government and revises the process through which professional development is delivered to teachers, principals, and staff. A similar bill was passed by the House last year but never taken up by the Senate.  During the Committee, discussion centered on whether initiatives run by Education and the Arts which are not in statute (including Governors Schools, Imagination Library, Energy Express, etc.) will continue. The current bill only addresses programs & initiatives included in statute.  This bill now moves to House Finance.
  • H. J. R. 103 Constitutional Amendment- Resolution proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would provide the Legislature with rule-making oversight over the WVDE and for the election of six members (out of nine) of the West Virginia Board of Education. While the headline of the resolution is the election of members of the WVBE, just as impactful is the inclusion of WVDE rule-making oversight by the Legislature. This oversight would be modeled after the authority that the Legislature (via LOCEA) currently exercises over HEPC and the CCTC. Opponents of this resolution voiced concern over the politicization of WV’s education system and the fact that details regarding the implementation of the election process would be unknown to voters at the time of the election. The resolution now moves to House Judiciary.

OTHER BILLS PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE: H.B. 2799: prohibits the superintendent of schools from requiring a physical examination to be included to the application for a minor’s work permit. H.B. 2887: authorizes Boards of Governors of institutions of higher education to develop retirement and incentive packages. H.B. 3089: provides a transition to the county board of education level of the process for review and adoption of instructional resources required to be used in the schools. H.B. 3095: allows retired teachers to be employed by a higher education institution, HEPC, or CCTC without forfeiting their retirement.

Policy Spotlight: Graduation Rates and Competency  

On Monday, January 15th Delegate Espinosa, chairman of the House Education Committee, gave a speech on the House Floor regarding WV’s High School Graduation rates.  He noted that roughly half of the 68 WV High Schools with 90% or higher graduation rates had at least one third of their college-going students who were not ready for college-level math or English. Espinosa stated:

“For this reason, I’m pleased to join my colleague Delegate Upson, as a cosponsor of House Bill 3061 which encourages Mastery-based education.  This purpose of this legislation is to encourage and support schools to move from the current time-based model toward a mastery-based model of education.  This approach allows for:

  • more personalized and differentiated, student-centered learning environment
  • creates a focus on clear, measurable, transferable learning targets
  • empowers students to progress to higher levels as they demonstrate mastery
  • provides additional support for those who have not.

It is critical that we explore how we can support schools in the move away from the current time-based model and towards mastery-based system.  We must move towards a system that ensures the high school diploma truly represents mastery for all students and equity for all.”

On Tuesday, January 16th Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the WV Community and Technical College System,  echoed many of Chairman Espinosa’s sentiments during an update to the Senate Education Committee on the number of degrees awarded and retention/completion efforts within the Community and Technical College System. While Dr. Tucker highlighted that Community and Technical Colleges have seen a 26% increase in the number of degrees they have awarded over the past 5 years, she also noted continued issue with students graduating from high school who need remediation upon entering Community and Technical Colleges. 

This information is updated each Friday throughout the 2018 Legislative Session.If you note the absence of a bill that should be tracked, please email info@educationalliance.org