Constitutional advocates needed

The “general” authority resides with the West Virginia State Board of Education. The West Virginia Constitution assigns the responsibility for furnishing the children of West Virginia a fair and equitable education to the Legislature, our representatives in Charleston. But, the Legislature has given that authority to the state board by allowing them to write rules and make policies that decide what our children will learn and how they will learn it. When the governor, the Senate and the House of Delegates are all controlled by one party it is a disaster. The governor appoints the members of the state board, each to serve a nine-year term; the board in turn appoints the State Superintendent of Schools.

We have a Legislative Oversight Commission for Education Accountability, whose purpose is to review the rule-making and policy decisions of the state board for accuracy and correctness pursuant to the law and “make recommendations or suggestions,” no Constitutional authority to make changes. The members of this commission are appointed by the president of the Senate (same party as the governor) and the speaker of the House of Delegates (again the same party as the governor). The statute specifies that they are to appoint not more than five members each from the same party. As a result of these laws and because we currently have, and have had for a long time, one party rule in West Virginia, the structure and makeup of the commission is five-to-one from the Senate side and four-to-one from the House side.

I would ask, who is looking after the interests of the people and the students? Where is the checks and balances? Where is the representative government? This is “governance” by one party rule. They speak, they write, and they make laws without challenge. They are essentially gods when it comes to education policy and law in the state of West Virginia.

There are 55 county boards who are elected by the people who are suppose to represent the wishes of the people in their individual districts. Unfortunately, more often than not they are afraid to do the right thing, even if they know what is right, because they fear the power of the state board and the repercussions of their actions.

This system will only be corrected when the numbers at the state capital change and the leadership in the Senate and the House are replaced with true constitutional advocates.

David Flinn