State school board president: ‘We have to value education more’

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State school board president: ‘We have to value education more’
By Carrie Hodousek, MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Amd debates about West Virginia schools playing catch-up during June in order to meet the 180-day requirement, State School Board president Gayle Manchin says parents, teachers and children should value education more.

[“Instead of saying ‘What about 180?’ why aren’t we saying ‘Why isn’t there 200? Or 210?’ (days),” Manchin told MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We’ve got to be pushing to do more, not arguing about why we have to do this much.”

Several school systems remained in class through the end of June, and absentee numbers reached an all-time high in some counties. That was “totally unacceptable,” Manchin said.

“It’s all about what kind of value we put on education. You can’t have a week off for Thanksgiving, a week off for Christmas, week off spring break and then when you have a bad winter, complain because you have to go to school until the middle of June,” she said.

Manchin said she favors a balanced year-long calendar with about nine weeks on and three weeks off. Families would have time for vacations without pulling children out of school, but the state hasn’t followed through with that idea because of sports schedules.

The extended school year drew up other issues, including the longevity of standardized testing, with a four- to five-week window, leaving students “checked out” for the rest of the year. This was the first year for the Smarter Balanced Assessment that required online access, so the board allowed a larger stretch of testing time in case of technology issues.

Eventually, Manchin suggests testing be shifted toward the last two weeks of school, so students can be more engaged through the final day.

“If we get our calendars more in line, we absolutely can push that test.”

The state board expects test results to arrive in August. Manchin advocates for continuing Smarter Balanced, so the state can collect accurate data on student advancement.

“We want our children to do more,” Manchin said. “We want them to be able to compete for jobs here in West Virginia and we want them to be able to compete with children from all over the world.”