WV Legislature still considering education bills - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

WV Legislature still considering education bills

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The final days of the regular legislative session are where issues live and die or sometimes become resurrected. Some education initiatives are still receiving debate and moving through the process with six days remaining in the session.

Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, and Senate Majority Leader said last week if he had to guess which issue may get diverted to a special session later in the year his bet would be education.

Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, and Senate Minority Leader said this is his 18th session, and from his experience, only a few big issues rise to the top of a session and stay there until the end. Hall said this year, those issues seem to be mine safety, drug abuse and Other-Post Employment Benefits.

Hall said some of the education reform initiatives the Republican party introduced are starting to find their ways into some of the bills being debated in committees.

Senators advanced House Bill 4236 Monday morning after adopting and amendment that puts much of the Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 372, into the measure. The Constitutional rule that requires a bill be read three separate days was suspended so members of the Senate could pass the bill.

House Bill 4236, as it stands now in a version that the House of Delegates must approve before it goes to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, would establish a new system for teacher evaluation and mentoring.

The bill reads that its purpose is to create a "comprehensive infrastructure that routinely supports a continuous process for improving teaching and learning."

Sen. Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, said the newest version of the bill includes wording about how parents should be sure students attend school and also the state's expectations of teacher preparatory programs.

Browning said the state has often tried to mandate mediocre teachers into becoming better ones, but this piece of legislation tries to set the stage that teachers should be good when they come out of school.

He said a pilot program in about 20 schools will become the framework for a statewide teacher evaluation program.

The measure also would set the stage for mentoring new teachers. The Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability would also be required to review the measure and make any necessary recommendations to the Legislature during next year's regular session.

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