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Maloney calls for immediate education reform

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Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Maloney has issued a call for immediate education reform.

In a June 12 news release, the Morgantown businessman said students deserve education reform and that voters need to demand accountability and results from the state's schools.

"Unfortunately for West Virginia students and their parents, we aren't getting either one," Maloney said.

According to Maloney, the state's Department of Education is consuming too many resources and that funds should go to pay teacher salaries and pay for additional educational resources. He also supports adding instructional days to the school calendar. West Virginia law requires students spend 180 days in school, but many counties often fall short of that goal because of snow days and other reasons.

The news release cites rankings from a variety of sources that show West Virginia's students are falling behind. According to a commentary by Charleston attorney Charles McElwee that was published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail and cited in Maloney's release, West Virginia's average score in math for eighth grades was 273, with only one state ranking lower; West Virginia is 49th among states in preparing students for science and engineering careers; West Virginia ranks last among states in K-12 achievement, with a grade of F.

But according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's campaign spokesman Chris Stadelman, the governor is working to improve the education system.

"Gov. Tomblin is working with educators, business people and families to improve our education system and ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century workforce," Stadelman said June 12. "Just today, Gov. Tomblin announced an innovative program that will improve opportunities for students while providing manufacturers with trained workers, and on Wednesday he will join the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Vision Shared to talk about strengthening our education system."

Stadelman pointed out that Maloney has said he would cut the education budget if elected. That contradicts what he is saying now.

"While Gov. Tomblin worked with Democrats and Republicans to solve OPEB and free up more money for schools, Bill Maloney has said education is the first place he would cut the budget and that he would reject federal education funding," Stadelman said. "Maloney would eliminate valuable programs, force teacher layoffs, or raise your taxes. Our students and our state deserve better than Bill Maloney."

The meeting Wednesday will be the first in a series of statewide forums to discuss an education audit with members of the community. That audit, conducted by Public Works LLC, was released earlier this year and resulted in 50 findings and recommendations that could improve student education across the state.

"With the development of new jobs and the revitalization of established industries, it is important that we work together to ensure our children receive the best education possible so that we can continue to prepare them for the demands of our growing economy," Tomblin said in a May 31 news release announcing the forums.

But those forums aren't enough for Maloney. He's calling for a special session aimed at reforming the state's education system.

"How much longer must we wait on education reform? Instead of holding campaign forums or naming donors to a task force, the governor should be calling a special session to implement the reforms outlined in this year's education audit and get more dollars in the classroom," Maloney said. "We need to ‘right-size' the Department of Education and invest the savings in teacher salaries and educational resources."

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