Education: Lawsuit should be heard as soon as possible

West Virginians have waited a long time for some breakthrough in public school improvement. The catchall bill approved weeks ago by state legislators may not be it, but it is as close as we are likely to get for some time.

Mountain State residents may not get even that.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said last week his union will file a lawsuit in an attempt to have the measure declared unconstitutional. When it will be brought before the courts is uncertain.

The sooner, the better.

Lee outlined constitutional objections to the bill. Some seem to be questionable complaints.

For example, Lee points to the constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation deal with only a single matter. It is true that the bill passed by lawmakers includes dozens of separate provisions — but so do many laws on the books.

Another of Lee’s contentions is that implementation of the bill would violate the state constitution’s requirement for a system of “thorough and efficient” schools in West Virginia. Leaders of the WVEA and the two other unions to which many public school employees pay hundreds of dollars (each) per year in dues, seem to think one section of the bill, authorizing a mere handful of charter schools, will wreck public education.

It will not.

And what about the many other sections of the bill, with which virtually no one disagrees? What about pay raises for school employees? What about more counselors to help troubled students? What about substantial new funding for many school districts? What about smaller class sizes in some schools?

Apparently, Lee and others in the WVEA are willing to lose all that — for our children to lose all that and more — to prove who’s boss regarding charter schools.

Be that as it may. The lawsuit will be filed and Mountain State residents must trust the state Supreme Court to deal with it appropriately — with all the word implies. In a bill as complex as the education measure, that will be a challenge.

Until it is dealt with, however, West Virginians will be in limbo regarding the Legislature’s attempt to improve our schools.

So, again: The sooner, the better.