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Education: Political theater will not solve West Virginia’s problems

West Virginians know the public education our kids receive has, let’s say, challenges that leave room for improvement. Among those challenges is a shortage of those willing to be teachers (and fill other positions in schools). To be clear, there are plenty of people who want to be teachers. They just don’t want to do it here.

What’s Charleston’s answer? A task force, of course. The West Virginia Department of Education created the Educator Preparation Task Force, which reported to the state board of education in January.

Here are the challenges the task force says it believes are creating the teacher shortage in West Virginia:

* Lack of robust multi-channel marketing campaign;

* Costs associated with teacher preparation and licensure;

* Barriers created by licensure testing and content-hour requirements;

* Beginning teachers lack access to consistently high-quality induction and mentoring programs; and

* Lack of a comprehensive, single platform to deliver data on teacher preparation, recruitment and retention.

One can’t help but wonder whether that list bears any resemblance to the reasons actual teachers chose to find another profession or to teach in other states. For goodness sake, when was the last time you heard a teacher bemoaning the state’s lack of a robust multi-channel marketing campaign; or lack of a comprehensive, single platform to deliver data on teacher preparation, recruitment and retention?

We know what those who choose to stay here endure, and we know the reasons many of the others choose to leave have a great deal more to do with those real-world issues about which King Bureaucracy and lawmakers refuse to be honest in West Virginia. Teachers are asked to be the solution to a host of socio-cultural problems and THEN educate our kids.

Address those (truly, not just by engaging in political theater and throwing money at unproved pet projects) and perhaps the rest will take care of itself.

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