Education Listening Tour packs Monongalia County Technical Education Center

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time ever The West Virginia State Board of Education is conducting six listening tours, two in each Congressional District.

Two topics that were off-limits for the gathering were charter schools and teacher salaries.

The event was broken into breakout sessions involving Family Engagement, Standards & Curriculum, College & Career Readiness and Educator Preparation, Recruitment and Retention.

State Board of Education president David Perry says he is open to suggestions to reduce the absence numbers.

“We’ve tried too long to punish our way out of the problem,” said Perry,”We need to look at ways to incentavize and make things more interesting for the students.”

Teachers and administrators stressed that family engagement also means getting parents involved to make sure students not only come to school, but come to school prepared to learn.

Cheat Lake Elementary School kindergarten teacher Michele Clemmer brought up concerns about treating mental illness among students as early as possible.

Qualified teachers and assistants are also an issue in student performance.

President of the West Virginia Education Association, Dale Lee said,”Doing harm to kids when we have this revolving door of substitutes or not having certified people in front of them, it’s a statewide problem we have to figure that out. Not only competitive wages but the respect that needs to be given to the profession.”

The NEA Director for the West Virginia Kimberly Bonnett says the teaching profession is not as popular as it once was, making recruiting and retention challenging.

“There’s not the support, there’s not the great pay-there never has been great pay, but we used to have good benefits, all of those things are going down,” Bonnett said, “Also, with the drug epidemic we have a lot of burden on teachers to deal with those students.”