Tough lessons on changing minds: Despite superintendent’s picture of legislators, few unwilling to bend on education reform

There are many schools of thought in law enforcement surrounding the accuracy of witness descriptions.

It often boils down to making proper allowances for discrepancies as a result of many influences — inadvertent or intentional.

Recently, judging by the observations of state leaders about the series of public forums on educational reform, we’re not all on the same page, yet.

The state superintendent of schools says he’s not only impressed by the attendance of legislators at these forums, but also in the way they conduct themselves at them.

“They didn’t express their thoughts or try to persuade or lobby anyone for their positions,” he said. “They listened very carefully to these stakeholders and that has happened at all locations … .”

However, that sounds more like wishful thinking than the reality. Some did keep their agendas to themselves at these forums, but they make no secret of them elsewhere.

Last week, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee made it clear he’s still intent on a carrot-and-stick approach to education reform.

That is, there will be no pay raises for teachers until there’s educational reform — charter schools and educational savings accounts.

“The money is there, but until we get through the special session on education reform, I can tell you there’s 18 senators that we’re not willing to do any pay raise until we get education reform … .”

On the other side of the aisle, another state senator recently commented at a local forum:

“Here’s what they’re (those 18 senators) gonna tell you … They’re gonna say, ‘We talked to parents about charter schools. Everybody loves charter schools.’ ”

Seemingly acting on cue the audience, he was a member of, responded with jeers of support for his position.

Observations by teacher’s union leaders, of course, continue  to confirm their position, too.

There are still three such education forums to go after last night’s event in Parkersburg.

We are encouraged to see that the state’s Department of Education is compiling a report on these forums.

We’re unsure of what the governor and members of the House will take away from this report once the special session is called to order though.

However, battle lines are drawn in the  Senate and inevitably one side will embrace it while the other defies this report’s findings,

It’s not unusual for legislators or everyone else to see things from a different point of view.

It’s  possible all of us might really feel the same about the betterment of our public schools.

But, if this special session is ever going to be successful everyone should accurately evaluate this report and what they’re hearing.

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