The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 13, 2013

Staying the course

Tomblin’s move to focus on middle schools another part of education reform

— Any parent with grown children will tell you, the middle school years are critical in determining the path and ultimate outcome of any student.

Given the recent results from studies completed on education quality in West Virginia, it’s no surprise that these critical years in a child’s development are becoming more of an intense focus.

This week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin commissioned a 10-month review of classes offered in our state’s middle schools, signing the first of several expected executive orders.

The order stated that identifying a student’s career goals will make it easier “to motivate the student and connect academic subjects and lessons to real life.”

While four-year college degrees remain a critical part of education, “research indicates that many of today’s high-paying, high-demand jobs require, and in the future will require, certifications or highly focused skill sets, rather than traditional degree qualifications.”

Tomblin has a vision to improve public education in the state.

For all that ails West Virginia, it could be argued that a better quality education system could help stave off the woes that come with poor education options — including unemployment.

And as we’ve found out, especially over the past few decades, unemployment tends to lead to a dramatic increase in crime, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Tomblin has critics, however. Many are voicing concerns under the dome this legislative session.

Undeterred, Tomblin is pushing his agenda forward.

We’re glad that the governor is standing firm.

Even though Tomblin has served as a pubic official over three decades, it’s very likely that his political legacy will be one that was driven to improve education, especially during his tenure as governor.

If successful, improved education options will be a feat that our state’s citizens will reap benefits from for many years to come.