The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 18, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Sept. 18, 2013

State board’s political agenda is disappointing

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent by Dr. Joseph Dangerfield of Fayetteville to West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin and members of the West Virginia State Board of Education:

My name is Joseph Dangerfield, a native of Fayetteville. I am the son of two teachers, with an aggregate of 90 years of teaching experience within Fayette, and an educator myself.

When I was a student at Fayetteville High School (1995 graduate), I felt like it was a strong program. There were many excellent teachers, most of whom would stay late and offer extra help to students in need. When I graduated, I went to Marshall University, and was surprised to learn that, despite how prepared I thought that I was, I was actually woefully behind in many subjects, including math and science.

Currently, my children are enrolled at Fayetteville Elementary School.

In making our decision to move back home, we were really only concerned with one element: the terrible state of the West Virginia school system, particularly the Fayette County School system. We met many people who moved from the area once their children were school-aged, and cautioned us against the same. We decided to make the move anyway, because we are very proactive parents, and see it as our responsibility to educate them in tandem with the school system.  

We are disheartened and extremely concerned to hear of what happened at the state board meeting in Romney, which was blatant political maneuvering, and wonder why you refuse to consolidate a school which has too few students (many are from Summers County, and many are bused daily to Vo-Tech in Oak Hill for classes)? Cutting these costs alone would help with the current state of the budget.

It makes more sense to close Meadow Bridge High School, and consolidate it with Midland Trail, than it does to consolidate any other school in the county. Why then, is MBHS being excluded from the plan? Because a bunch of community members packed up and drove to the meeting in Romney to plead their case?  

And the argument that it is the “best school in Fayette County” is shockingly tenuous — when comparing schools in the 54th ranked county, in the 49th ranked state, one is actually stating “Meadow Bridge is the least bad school.”

Sadly, when our children turn old enough, my wife and I will be forced to make the difficult decision to either send them to a boarding school in another state, or move where they will receive the education that all children deserve. The long-term risk is simply too great to do otherwise.

Finally, I am extremely disappointed and ashamed of you for putting your political ambitions above our children’s future. West Virginia is a wonderful place, and is my home, and deserves far better.

Dr. Joseph A. Dangerfield