Oppose omnibus education bill

As of Feb. 6, the Omnibus Education Bill has not been voted out of the House Education Committee.

Bills are supposed to be on one topic. I believe the bill as voted out of the WV Senate is at least five bills.

1. This bill covers teacher and school personnel raises.

2. It requires annual consent of each teacher before union dues can be collected.

3. It removes the right of the citizenry to vote approval of school levies and gives the power to increase taxation to the county school boards.

4. It establishes tax-supported charter schools to be publicly funded with very little regulation or method of accreditation.

5. It establishes Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) available from kindergarten until the student is 24 for about 2,000 lucky families.

Then it adds a clause saying that if any portion of the bill is invalidated, the whole bill is void.

Right now there are about 100 private schools in West Virginia including seven in Wood County. Many are officially sponsored by churches. School funding is largely from the State on a per student basis. If students already in private schools become eligible for public funding this would increase the outlay required by the State to fund education unless it cut the per student allotment.

The proposed legislation has no regulation for accrediting schools, requirements on curriculum, or requirements on teacher certification. There are no limits on how selective the charter schools can be on choosing their student — thus higher need students would be left in public schools. It doesn’t specify how the public school boards will be reimbursed if the students participate in public school activities or use public school facilities. I am opposed to the disbursement of funds to private agencies without proper oversight. These are our tax dollars.

When we moved to this state, we decided that the local public schools were not a good match for our high school students. We scrimped and borrowed to send them to out-of-state private schools — but we paid our public school taxes without complaining. Private school should be an option but should not take away support for public schools. Nor should a few well-to-do families be advantaged by establishing ESA’s and charter schools.

Please oppose this poorly constructed Omnibus Education Bill by contacting your delegates.

Judith Peascoe