Itís ALL About the Kids

May 17, 2010

 By West Virginia Board of Education President Priscilla Haden

It is time to give more than just courteous conversation to changing West Virginia’s educational system. It is time to stop playing the blame game and start talking.

Earlier this year, Gov. Joe Manchin challenged the West Virginia Board of Education to suggest “bold” actions and he promised to call a special session. In response, the board unanimously voted to present to the governor a robust education agenda for his consideration. It’s ALL About the Kids: Progressive Action Steps for West Virginia’s Education System is a comprehensive framework for the transformation of public education in West Virginia.

To gather baseline information for this new education agenda, the state Board of Education and West Virginia Department of Education conducted a series of conversations with educators, students, parents, state school board members, county board members, local superintendents and others. It’s ALL About the Kids is built upon the vision of the state Board of Education and the dialogue and input of more than 2,000 individuals.

The report presents actions necessary for not only a successful Race to the Top application but also the pathway for continued success in implementing our 21st century learning program Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it. This program puts into action needed change to help West Virginia children not only compete globally but to thrive.

The governor has chosen to further develop eight of the 28 suggestions presented in It’s ALL About the Kids. The eight pieces of legislation proposed by the governor will require sweeping legislative changes as well as policy changes. As a matter of fact, the state board already has started taking steps related to changes in school programs and policies.  We also plan to revisit the items not chosen by the governor for future legislative session.

While West Virginia’s educational system has had many successes, such as a No. 1 rating in Education Week’s Quality Counts report for our curriculum and testing and a top five rating for our pre-K programs, according to The State of Preschool, we have to do better. All of us, state board members, legislators, educators and parents, must take responsibility for our educational system. This special session offers a unique opportunity to make historic steps to improve public education. More importantly, it is our opportunity to stop blaming and start talking.