WVEA Legislative Update

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WVEA's Legislative Update #1 - January 19, 2018   (PDF of WVEA Update #1)

Education Rally kicks off first full week of session

The conversation around education-related issues kicked off the first full week of the 2018 Legislative Session. The MLK Day rally highlighted issues that are of most concern to education employees- salary, PEIA, seniority and adequate funding of our schools.

A big ‘thank you’ to those who participated in the rally and began the discussion with your legislators. Our issues have been presented to legislators and now the real work begins.

We must continue to keep our issues in the minds of our legislators. Writing, calling, holding events for them back home, and coming to the capitol to lobby are the key components to getting favorable legislation passed and harmful legislation stopped.

WVEA has staff working at the capitol all day/every day during the session. We also conduct morning briefings in our office each day at 9 am. Schedule a trip to Charleston during the session and talk to your legislators.

Thanks again to everyone who traveled to Charleston for the Education Day Rally!

Session opens slowly
Most of the action during the first week was the introduction of the rollover bills. Those were the bill introduced last session that failed to pass. A number of those bills are not good for public schools or school employees.

One of the rollover bills is Senate Bill 130 (Tim Tebow Bill) which permits students that are homeschooled, or enrolled in private, parochial or church school, to participate in extracurricular activities at schools that are members of the WVSSAC. Senate Bill 130 easily passed out of the Senate Education Committee and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. Additionally, the House introduced their own version of the bill, House Bill 4007. WVEA opposes this bill.
The House Education Committee heard the committee substitute for House Bill 3080 (instructional materials), which transitions to the county level, from the State Board of Education, the process for selection and adoption of instructional resources, which includes text books. The bill was carried over from the last session. This bill is now before the full House on first reading.
The House Education Committee met for nearly four hours on Wednesday afternoon, with three bills on the agenda. House Joint Resolution 103 (election of State Board members) would require that six of the nine board of education seats be filled by elected members, which would have six year terms. Currently, the governor makes all appointments to the State Board of Education and terms are nine years. Additionally, this bill would require that all State Board of Education policy changes must be first approved by the Legislature. This bill is problematic, because the possibility of outside interest involvement in State Board of Education elections, and that statewide elections are generally costly and would possibly exclude education professionals from seeking office. Just remember back to the thousands of out-of-state comments on the changes to our science standards. WVEA opposes this bill.
On Wednesday, Senate President Carmichael introduced Senate Bill 304 (Charter Schools). The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee where it has not been scheduled for a hearing, as of this writing. Charters, vouchers and ESAs (education savings accounts) are schemes to take funding from our public schools and would hurt public education in our state.
This week, it is important to contact your legislators and let them know the issues that are important to you. Specifically, we ask you to call attention to the matters of the following:
·   Salary: A 1% salary raise for educators, as proposed by Governor Justice, is not enough. West Virginia is currently 48th in salary, and is not competitive with our neighboring states, where we are dead last. We need to bring salaries to a competitive level and a 1% raise will not do that.
·   Seniority: Research shows that seniority isn’t just the amount of time you’ve work but it is the experience that you’ve gained from your time in the classroom. Study after study shows a direct correlation between the number of years a teacher is in the classroom and the achievement of their students. Any attempt to remove seniority in determining personnel moves takes us back to the days of a subjective system of decision-making and brings in the factors of favoritism, nepotism and discrimination into determining which employee will receive the layoff notice.

·  PEIA: Lawmakers must find additional revenue to fund PEIA. The employer should pay no less than 80%, with the employee paying no more than 20%. In good financial years, the state should pay more of PEIA.
Click here for a list of legislative members and their direct contact information.

Accurate information is important
Having accurate information is a key factor in talking to legislators and influencing change. While social media is a great source of information not all of the information on all sites is correct.

Please make sure to go to the WVEA - read WVEA’s Lobbyline on a daily basis and check WVEA’s Facebook for the most up to date information.