BOE is right, unions are not

Wood County School Superintendent, John Flint seemed obsessed with operating in the shadows and shunned any light shined into the darker recesses of Wood County education. The recent revelation of an audit report kept from the public by his administration should be of great concern to every Wood County resident. The report exposes the administration’s penchant for concealing damaging or unfavorable reports at the local or state level.

The Wood County Board of Education made the correct and courageous decision by choosing not to renew the contract of superintendent Flint. Wood County parents and taxpayers should be thankful the board took into account the superintendent’s lack of leadership and his means of interaction with those with whom he worked and the taxpayers of Wood County. Additionally, the failure to release the audit report is inconsistent with the openness and character needed for someone in a position of authority over the education of young people.

Regarding the teacher strike:

The union’s demand for no increases in insurance and a greater increase in wages than the legislature has offered are things West Virginia taxpayers would also like. Unfortunately, taxpayers have no union to bully lawmakers.

Consider the following:

* West Virginia ranks 49th in per capita income and 48th in median household income. We are a poor state.

* Maryland and Washington D.C. are the leaders in per capita income.

* West Virginia ranks 46th in test scores.

* The U.S. ranks 17th in the world for education performance, and first in spending. Obviously, spending has little to do with performance.

* West Virginia is the 10th most affordable state in which to live.

* According to most rankings, state teacher incomes rank between 46th and 48th in the nation, but that does not include extra compensation and benefits afforded by the special excess levees provided by many counties.

Living in a poor state is not ideal for teachers or any other profession if money is their primary goal. Maryland or Washington, D.C., would be better choices. Statewide, educators are paid what taxpayers can afford.

Teacher unions remain inflexible to merit pay and paying more for specialized teachers in border counties. Unions do not represent the interests of teachers, taxpayers and especially the young people of West Virginia. By ditching unions and saying no to federal money and interference, we can get back to allowing teachers to teach and children to learn.

Jim Mullen