Education: HB 3145 could attract teachers to needed fields

Not every piece of the controversial “omnibus education bill” has been consigned to File 13 by West Virginia legislators. Fortunately, some aspects of the measure have been revived as separate, freestanding legislation.

One is House Bill 3145, which would pay the college tuition of those studying to earn teaching degrees in mathematics, science and special education — under certain conditions. One of them is that graduates would have to agree to teach those subjects in areas of the state where there are special needs for them, for at least five years. Another is a requirement that students have cumulative grade-point averages of at least 3.25.

Language in the bill limits the actual amount of the tuition award to being equal to the lesser of the average cost of tuition at the student’s school or the average cost of tuition statewide.

It is expected to cost approximately $438,000 in fiscal 2020 and $332,000 in fiscal 2021.

If it makes a difference in West Virginia’s ability to provide the quality education ALL our students deserve, it will be worth that kind of money.

It has proved to be exceedingly difficult to attract qualified teachers in math, science and special education to some areas of our state. HB 3145 could ease that concern by encouraging more aspiring educators to go into shortage fields and areas. Both houses of the Legislature should approve the bill.