Sen. Unger calls part of education reform bill “irresponsible”
State Senate Majority Leader John Unger says he’s not convinced there’s a problem with the teacher hiring system in West Virginia.
The state Senate Education Committee began going over Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education reform bill Thursday afternoon. Unger, D-Berkeley, told the administration he wants some scientific proof that the teacher hiring system is broken.
“I think there ought to be some research, some data, that shows this is a problem in West Virginia—that we are not hiring quality teachers and therefore student achievement is going down,” the senator said.
Gov. Tomblin’s bill scraps the current hiring system and de-emphasizes seniority when filling positions. Both teachers unions in West Virginia have already been loud and clear with their concerns about the proposed provision.
Unger says all he’s heard are a few stories that say a candidate someone wanted to get a teaching job finished second.
“Right now I just see a solution looking for a problem until I see there’s really a problem,” Unger said. “Here we are changing an entire system for some antidotal stories and I just think that’s irresponsible of us.”
Gov. Tomblin’s Public Policy Director Hallie Mason told Unger the state has good teachers but changing the hiring practices will make things better.
“What we’re trying to do by changing the hiring practices is to make sure that faculty senates and principals can bring in the teacher who they believe fits the environment for them to work with,” she said.
Unger repeated his request for proof.
“I would like to see some scientific evidence, some statistics saying that these are the problems within these counties and we need to address it and this is how we’re going to do it,” Unger said.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, let members of his committee know Thursday they are going to be spending a lot of time next week on the bill. Plymale says he’ll hold two meetings on Tuesday and two meetings next Thursday in hopes of passing the bill out of his committee sometime next Thursday evening.
Plymale also told the committee changes have already been made to the governor’s bill after discussions with the Tomblin administration and interested parties.