WV DOE to draft superintendent job posting as Martirano continues to address teacher shortages

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WV DOE to draft superintendent job posting as Martirano continues to address teacher shortages
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano says he has a plan to address the “unconscionable” amount of teacher vacancies in the state.

“Right now we have 718 teacher vacancies across the state,” Martirano said. “That means that our young people are not receiving the quality education they deserve by a quality teacher.”

In his plan, presented to state Board of Education members Thursday at the state Capitol, Martirano said he wants to create a “teacher corps” to help fill those jobs. Those individuals, he said, would go to rural areas, specifically border counties like McDowell and Jefferson where teachers are leaving West Virginia for opportunities in other states.

“Come into our state. Give us 3-5 years of teaching. We would work with them to incentivize by paying off their student loan — going to the areas that are geographically isolated,” he explained. “I have close to 40 vacancies in McDowell County out of 225 teachers.”

The “teacher corps” idea is part of a three-pronged approach he plans to present to the state Legislature. The other two parts include looking at education policies and giving teachers the financial support they need. Martirano is a big supporter of Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to raise teacher salaries by 2 percent.

“We are number 46 in terms of our average teacher salary,” Martirano said, which pays about $45,554 annually, according to the National Teacher Association. “We fall further and further behind.”

“Every child in our state needs to have a high quality teacher in every classroom,” he noted. “Anything less than that is not acceptable.”

Martirano only has a few months left as State School Superintendent. He announced his resignation last September and plans to leave the job July 3.

On Thursday, the board voted to institute a hiring freeze on the state Department of Education. The board also approved DOE staff to draft a job posting for the position. Board members will review the job posting at the next meeting set for Feb. 16 at 9 a.m.

Newly named state school board President Tom Campbell agreed with Justice’s education proposals. He even liked how the governor ended his State of the State Address by comparing the state’s budget woes to the New England Patriot’s historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in last Sunday’s Super Bowl victory.

Justice said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “led a comeback that was unbelievable.”

“He took the Super Bowl trophy — I watched him do this — he stood on the podium and screamed, “Let’s go!” After he had won,” Justice told a packed House Chamber Wednesday night. “Well, I’d say to you: “Let’s go!”

Campbell said they should apply Justice’s analogy to what goes on in West Virginia’s public school system.

“If we’ll adopt that same type of attitude here, that maybe we’re down 28 to 3 — they came back pretty quick — we can too,” Campbell said, referring to the Patriots’ win.

In addition to teacher raises, Justice said he also wants to do away with the A-F grading system and throw Smarter Balanced assessment testing “in the trash can.”

Campbell said that proves to him that Justice truly cares about teachers and students in West Virginia.

“We’re in tight times, but I like the fact that even though we are in tight times, we’re realizing that one of the ways out of those tight times is to improve our education system,” he said.