Reader: You can’t buy an education

First, let’s get something straight: You cannot buy an education. You can buy books and materials, construct a building and pay teachers, but no amount of money has ever bought anyone an education.

Education is rarely fun, but it is always rewarding. The suppression of these truths is part of the reason so many West Virginia students can go through 12 years of public school and emerge almost illiterate.

Progressives are completely wrong about public education. Our schools are not underfunded. They are poorly managed and constrained by a system that prevents meaningful accountability.

Across West Virginia, public education is in a crisis, and in desperate need of a workable solution. As with many other social woes, leftist school boards’ and unions’ answer is simply to spend money until the problem goes away.

That’s why Gov. Jim Justice promised to pressure the state legislature to spend more taxpayer money, to applause from most Democrats and some Republicans alike. And Justice has good reason to do whatever he can to try and fix the state’s education system since West Virginia schools rank 42th in the country overall.

The reality, however, is much more complicated. While such measures play well with voters, the numbers show that for education, money really can’t buy everything.

Bringing real reforms that ensure a good teacher is in every classroom and gives parents options of where they send their kids are the steps we need to take.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against educational funding. However, the way in which education leadership utilizes these funds is haphazard and unclear. The federal government throws dollars at the state, the state throws dollars at local school boards and the local boards throw dollars at schools.

How about the West Virginia classroom? Our method of teaching hasn’t radically changed over the past century. It’s stuck, it’s dated and it’s in need of radical transformation.

While there are bright spots in some private school systems, the public education system, where the vast majority of our children are being taught, guided and motivated is a dated, bloated, inefficient, bureaucratic dinosaur. It lost sight and understanding of its consumer a long, long time ago.

I took the opportunity to research education data for Randolph County. Percent proficient reading 44 percent and percent proficient math 27 percent. Randolph County has 4,060 students in grades Pre-K, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 14 to 1, free or reduced lunch 44.2 percent, average teacher salary $48,462, total expenses $48,464,000, instruction accounts for 60 percent, support services 33 percent and other 7 percent.

I suggest that the School Board develop a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) for each school located in the county, then share that report with the public.

In addition, the School Board needs to complete an FCAP (Facility Capital Action Plan) and share that report with the public.

Folks, its not rocket science.

Good day!

Robert Ware

French Creek