\u201cIt\u2019s just really good to listen to people.\u201d\r\nThat should be the first point of reference for the Legislature once it resumes its special session on public education reforms.\r\nThe remark above was one of the state superintendent of schools\u2019 observations following the final forum on the state\u2019s education system.\r\nWe were encouraged by the thousands of West Virginians who participated in the eight forums sponsored by the state Department of Education.\r\nBut whether it was a wise investment in time and money we cannot help but be skeptical. There\u2019s a difference between hearing and listening.\r\nIt\u2019s true more than 18,000 survey responses were generated by these forums and the legislators who attended them got an earful.\r\nThe data and an analysis of the roundtable discussions will be boiled down into a report to be presented to the Legislature by May 1.\r\nSpeculation, for now, is the special session will be called out of recess May 20. That\u2019s when a two-day interim legislative session is due to start.\r\nDemocratic Party legislators have also been conducting their own \u201clistening tour\u201d since the special session was called March 10.\r\nAs for legislative Republicans, it\u2019s apparent, at least in the Senate, positions have hardened around its omnibus education bill \u2014 SB 451.\r\nPut simply, the 18 senators \u2014 a slight majority in\u00a0 the Senate \u2014 who never wavered in support of SB 451, are only listening to what they want to hear.\r\nNo one can be certain of the outcome of the resumption of the special session but we\u2019re not encouraged by this inflexibility.\r\nThe special session also plans to tackle fixing a handful of unrelated bills the governor vetoed in March.\r\nAll this leads us to conclude this special session is going to get complicated, if not stalemated.\r\nWe urge the governor to prepare several bills on public education that segment some of the dozens of policy changes in SB 451 into more manageable bites.\r\nResuming action on a bill that rewards (bribes?) teachers, students, parents and administrators to take it or leave it is not going to work.\r\nPerhaps the more than 30 items in SB 451 should not each have to stand on their own. But if they were packaged into a half-dozen or so bills it might ensure progress.\r\nFor instance, dedicating $25 million to our schools for more support personnel \u2014 counselors, nurses, psychologists, etc. \u2014 and more funds for school safety, both at\u00a0 local districts\u2019 discretion, are invaluable. Why hold such initiatives as those hostage to other unpopular efforts in SB 451?\r\nListen up, because if our state\u2019s legislators don\u2019t, they are going to flunk this test.