Charleston, WV - The Democratic Women’s Caucus in the House of Delegates presented a letter to Governor Jim Justice today, asking him to listen to the West Virginians who have spoken up against charter schools this year and veto House Bill 206, otherwise known as the House Education Omnibus Bill.
“Our constituents have spoken overwhelmingly against certain components of HB 206, most strongly against allowing charter schools into West Virginia,” said Delegate Sammi Brown (D-Jefferson). “When we passed the bill out of the House, we lost the opportunity to show them that we not only represent them, but we respect them and their voices.”
The House of Delegates held 3 public hearings in the House chambers this year, two during the Regular and one during the Special Legislative Sessions. At each hearing, the majority of attendees who spoke on the subject of charter schools were against allowing them into the West Virginia education system.
“West Virginians across the state have spoken; yet, their voices fall on deaf ears,” said Delegate Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia). “It’s disheartening when our colleagues attempt to twist the data to conform to their choice of supporting charter schools. It’s disrespectful to the students, teachers, personnel, and parents that ‘freedom’ supersedes the 88% who were not interested in charter schools. Modern day segregation in our Mountain State is unacceptable.”
The 88% figure comes from a report released by the WV Department of Education that collected data during the education forums they held after the 2019 Regular Session. Participants in those forums also came out strongly against Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and for providing a pay raise for teachers and school service personnel.
“The real experts, our educators, want us to work to reduce & eliminate the true factors that most impact student performance,” said Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe (D-Greenbrier), a former teacher in Kanawha County. “No reform legislation will improve student achievement until we address these issues: poverty, mental illness and childhood trauma. None of these are the true focus or intent of HB206 and until we focus on strengthening families and communities, we will not succeed at strengthening our schools.”
The letter that was presented to the Governor today urges him to listen to the true experts of West Virginia’s education system and to prioritize the students of West Virginia when the bill comes to him for a signature.
“We are public servants who are elected by the people to do what is best for our citizens,” said Delegate Linda Longstreth (D-Marion). “We urge you to listen to our Educators.”
The remaining members of the caucus are Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton (D-Kanawha), Delegate Barbara Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Delegate Margaret Staggers (D-Fayette) and Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall).
A copy of the letter to Governor Justice is attached