Education: Give teachers more flexibility in classroom

One reason private charter schools appeal to some education reformers is they are burdened with less bureaucratic red tape than public schools. A few charters may be coming to West Virginia, as a result of a bill enacted earlier this summer by the Legislature.

Charters can act as pilot projects to demonstrate what is possible in public schools if there is more emphasis on results and less on dotting all the “I’s” and crossing all the “T’s.”

But why wait for charters to show the way? Why not begin giving public school educators more flexibility now? The idea seems to appeal to some West Virginia legislators.

Members of a joint committee including both state senators and members of the House of Delegates discussed it last week. They heard constructive, valuable suggestions from a variety of people, including the heads of the state’s two unions for public school teachers.

Classroom teachers ought to be included in any discussion of providing more flexibility, West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee recommended.

Absolutely. Teachers are on the front lines. They understand best what works and what does not.

Mickey Blackwell, executive director of the state Association of Elementary/Middle School Principals, warned that some standards need to remain in place to avoid losses in education quality. Again, that seems like common sense.

That — common sense — needs to be at the heart of any move to make it easier for good teachers to teach.

Legislators should move ahead on reducing the regulatory burden on public schools with the same intensity and determination they displayed earlier this year in pushing for a major education bill. It is likely many of the educators who opposed that will be firmly on board with a move to emphasize genuine school quality rather than mere compliance with a rule book that never seems to grow thinner.

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