CHARLESTON — With West Virginia college students scuffling with studying and math and the state attracting main producers in want of a workforce, lawmakers and stakeholders are addressing these issues throughout the 60-day legislative session starting subsequent week.
Through the West Virginia Press Affiliation’s annual Legislative Lookahead Friday on the Tradition Middle in Charleston, Senate President Craig Blair and Home Speaker Roger Hanshaw laid out their plans for enhancing public training and rising the workforce. Blair, R-Berkeley, stated each points are linked.
“Training within the State of West Virginia is an financial improvement device,” he stated.
Blair appointed Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, as the brand new chair of the Senate Training Committee over the summer season. Grady, a college trainer, replaces former Chairwoman Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, who was appointed to chair the brand new Senate Alternate Training Committee shaped to supervise the state’s college selection applications.
“We’ve finished nearly all we are able to do for various training, whether or not it’s constitution faculties or dwelling faculties,” Blair stated. “We’ll preserve our eyes on that, and if something must be tuned up to have the ability to tackle that, we are going to. However Amy Grady is the primary training chair in over 50 years that’s truly in training.”
Grady lately collaborated with State Superintendent of Colleges David Roach on a brand new phonics and literacy program being rolled out this 12 months. Prepared, Learn, Write West Virginia will concentrate on the science of studying, phonetic consciousness and fluency, vocabulary and studying comprehension. This system may also attempt to goal the colleges with the worst English Language Arts scores.
The Balanced Scorecard for the 2021-22 college 12 months — based mostly on summative assessments for grades three, eight and 11 — confirmed that 53.9% of West Virginia college students have been proficient in ELA. Solely 48.8% of scholars examined have been proficient in math. Whereas scores improved from lows throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they remained beneath pre-pandemic scores, which have been already low.
“I’m a product of the general public faculties right here in West Virginia. I’m very happy with that,” Hanshaw stated. “What I’m not happy with are our studying and arithmetic scores amongst West Virginia college students. If the coronavirus taught us something over the previous couple years… I hope it taught us that we can not depart training on autopilot. We can not maintain lecturers accountable when we’ve got hamstrung them and never given them alternatives to actively do what they’re educated to do.”
Hanshaw, R-Clay, stated he would as soon as once more introduce a invoice to supply trainer aides for lecturers in grades one and two. An analogous invoice final 12 months was not taken up.
“What the info tells us is that the early grade ranges in elementary college grades, Kindergarten by means of third, are probably the most essential grade ranges for acquisition and improvement of studying abilities,” Hanshaw stated. “If college students don’t grasp these abilities by the point they end the third grade, their possibilities of ever doing so fall off precipitously.”
Hanshaw stated the Home may also introduce laws to assist enhance the state’s faculty attainment charges which stay a few of the lowest within the nation. Working with the Group and Technical School System of West Virginia and the state’s union trades, Hanshaw stated the laws would give West Virginians who efficiently full union apprenticeship applications an affiliate diploma.
Justin Williams, the brand new director of the Affiliated Development Trades in West Virginia, stated they’ve been in conversations with Hanshaw and the CTCWV on a trades-to-degrees program.
“We’re all about educating folks on the chance of a profession within the trades,” Williams stated. “That’s what we’re doing as a result of, once more, it’s a couple of partnership with all these different teams to work collectively.”
One other pay increase for public staff, lecturers and faculty service personnel additionally was mentioned. Gov. Jim Justice proposed a 5% common pay increase enhance. If accredited by lawmakers, it might be the fourth such pay enhance for public staff and educators. Home Minority Chief Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, stated the state ought to increase salaries whereas there may be extra tax income.
“I’m glad to listen to each (Blair and Hanshaw) say that public training should and shall be a precedence,” Skaff stated. “We now have to speculate a few of the surplus in public training. Do no matter it takes. Sufficient is sufficient.”
“Clearly we have to take care of elevated pay and advantages for state employees,” stated Senate Workforce Committee Chairman Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, throughout a day panel throughout the Legislative Lookahead. “It’s a heavy carry, I’ll offer you that. However we’ve got to handle these folks which might be doing the enterprise of West Virginia.”
Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Lecturers, stated even with the pay raises since 2018, trainer pay stays decrease than neighboring states. Consequently, there’s a scarcity of licensed lecturers within the state, with greater than 1,500 uncertified lecturers making an attempt to fill the hole.
“In fact, we want pay raises,” Albert stated. “They should be paid a livable wage. They don’t should be working two and three jobs. We have to do one thing to help our educators in order that we are able to have a powerful workforce.”
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