Teachers fight West Virginia charter school proposal

By Amelia Ferrell, Producer aferrell@wowktv.com

 A battle is brewing in West Virginia over a proposal for charter schools. Senate bill 14 would allow publicly funded charter schools to the state, one of eight states that does not allow charter schools.  Another proposal would allow organizations to provide teachers for the schools.

Supporters say counties could tailor schools to fit their educational needs. “It’s not the one-size-fits-all approach that we’ve tried to force public education into in West Virginia,” said Delegate Amanda Pasdon, a Monongalia County Republican and bill sponsor.

Charter schools would set their own rules for hiring and firing staff and would set their own calendars.

“I believe that public school teachers are there for the best of their students and I don’t know if I’m going to see that from a charter school teacher,” said Samantha Gerwig, a Fayette County school teacher.

Teachers across the state have taken to Facebook, creating a group to a advocate against the proposal.

Educators say they fear funds would be taken from needy public schools for charter schools. “We are the 48th in the nation in teacher pay, we have issues with our school buildings here,” said Fayette County teacher Jason Crouch. “If it’s such a great idea to have this charter school, why not do it for all the schools?”

But supporters says money follows students. “The children that would be in the public charter would be in the charter and the money would follow them whether they were in the public traditional system or in the public charter system,” said Delegate Pasdon,

Teachers say students would be the ones to suffer the most if charter schools come to the state. “It’s never been proven to show where it helps student performance,” said Crouch.

“We need the parents to get out there and say ‘We support public teachers.. we support public school teachers and that’s what we want it to continue to be’,” said Gerwig.