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Op-ed: Education system is not serving students

The Wood County Board of Education declared the recent closings of county schools were necessary to compensate for the reduced money from the state. Additionally, they announced that more schools might suffer the same heavy-handed cleaver next year.

The state’s formula for funding education in West Virginia is based on enrollment, and Wood County Schools have seen a slow bleeding of enrollment each year. In part, these losses are due to concerned parents finding alternatives to failing public schools.

We have heard repeatedly how the school system is being short-changed by parents who home school and send their children to other-than-public schools.

I would simply remind the board and administration that if parents believed Wood County had competent schools they would not feel compelled to seek other venues of education for their children.

In the private sector, this situation would spur business to address their customer’s concerns by improving their product or service. However, as in most bureaucratic government endeavors, competition is a dirty and deadly word. They know their bloated, incompetent bureaucracy could never compete.

Rather than looking at this as an opportunity to improve education, they take the attitude that parents are robbing the school system. They quickly head for cover by changing the subject to school closures and pressuring the state to modify school formulas.

Closing a school does not teach one child to read or do math. What are we doing to educate children? Anyone analyzing the recent national, state and local test results knows full well that young people are not getting the education they deserve.

I would say to the administration, school board, teachers, parents and citizens ask what they can do individually, and as groups, to give children the best possible education in Wood County. We are blowing through over $100 million a year — and in my opinion children receive the finest indoctrination money can buy.

When a young person walks across the stage and we hand them a diploma, we are telling them they are ready to contend in a competitive world. Sad to say, most are not!

Even those making straight As and taking the highest classes in math and science, and other subjects, find when they apply for college that they are weak and need remedial courses or tutors. Standards for tests and learning are systematically lowered — and we fail miserably.

The Wood County School Board is comprised of five elected officials and has the power to change this county’s education system. The bureaucrats in Charleston tell them differently, but the elected board has the power; the state bureaucrats just don’t want them to wield it.

Every taxpayer, parent and guardian in the county should ask the following questions:

When the state reduces funding to Wood County Schools because of lower enrollment, is payroll sliced accordingly to compensate for the loss of income? In business, when income shrinks, they first reduce labor costs.

Do we keep the same number of teachers and other professional positions year after year when enrollment is decreasing?

When the schools are shuttered next year, will the number of teacher positions be reduced? How about custodial and other service-related employees, will they be terminated?

How many paid personnel will be terminated and removed from the payroll due to school closings?

Here are a few problems I believe contribute to the poor test results and the failings, in general, of properly educating young people.

Since teachers cannot be terminated for lack of properly educating children, everyone is lowered to the lowest common denominator by scripting teaching. Good teachers are bored, teachers miss more work,; children learn less, costs go up and test scores tank.

After the federal government unconstitutionally insinuated itself into public education — thus making most of the rules — children have been cheated. The county receives about nine percent of its budget from the feds who cause about ninety percent of the problems. Tell them to keep the money and their bureaucratic nightmares that go with it.

Public unions hold entirely too much power over education. If this issue is not addressed, young people will never receive the education they deserve, and taxpayers will in no way receive the value they deserve.

Accountability! Who is going to be held accountable?

As for the lack of school choice, we need many more private schools like VERITAS Academia. Competition is the only way education will improve.

Tenure allows stagnation of ideas, and in my opinion tenure is the point at which in any job or profession incompetence and ignorance become not only acceptable but also profitable.

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Jim Mullen is a politically conservative Parkersburg writer and blogger and is a member of the WV Constitution Advocates.

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