The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 23, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013

Comments about teachers were unfair

— Once again, public school teachers have been blamed for the problems in our schools. The recent “Other Voices” editorial titled “Rewriting education” attacked our teachers’ union as being the culprit for failed education policies in the state. The writer apparently does not understand the West Virginia Education Associations’ recommendations about the education audit.

As a teacher in our great state, it deeply saddens me that such bias has once more been shown in the media toward my profession.

The author alluded that the WVEA forum members did not find any valuable findings in the audit. This is simply not true. Forum participants felt that there were suggestions for recruiting and retaining new teachers that would be valuable to education. There are many other positive examples if one were to read the report, but it is in understandable that many forum participants were disillusioned with some of the recommendations of the audit, considering the audit points to teachers as the greatest problem within the system.

In the article, the union was accused of protecting weak teachers. Again this is not the reality. According to the WVEA’s report, “although forum participants expressed the belief that local school systems need more flexibility in hiring practices and ineffective teachers should not be in the classroom, the consensus appears to be the current system of hiring school personnel is better than the suggested alternatives recommended in the audit report.”

Most teachers do not believe that poor performing teachers should be in the classroom. This only makes the job more difficult for everyone involved. The assumption that unions protect bad workers is not true, but the unfair good old boy hiring system of the not so distant past could become a reality once more if the recommendations of the audit were used to hire teachers.

The WVEA works hard for the students of West Virginia. I firmly believe that if anyone who knew anything about education read the WVEA’s recommendations, they would also believe this. All we are asking, as educators, is that all stakeholders in a child’s education be held accountable. School personnel, students, parents, and community members must all be responsible. The dedicated teachers and service personnel of our schools should not carry the entire burden.

 Wendy Peters