Telegram Editorial, Feb. 24, 1999
Effectiveness, not exams, true test of excellent teachers
It has been stated that the quality of America's
public schools ultimately depends on the competence and the commitment
of its teachers, and West Virginia is certainly no exception.
To be fair, teachers must be graded by administrators
and accreditors on how well their students learn from them and by their
eagerness to see to it that the students are learning. Basing a teacher's
pay on anything not merit-related is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Generally, teachers will not remain in the profession
long enough to build a respectable tenure if their skills in assisting
their students to learn from them are not adequate. It goes back to merit.
If a teacher is effective in the classroom and properly motivates students
to want to learn, it will be borne out when test time comes.
There is a movement afoot by the U.S. Department
of Education to propose a national model for licensing teachers. While
Education Secretary Richard Rileys motives of raising the bar on teacher
quality seem noble, we are not convinced that proposing national standards
for teacher licensing and certification is the answer. We have our doubts
that such standards will significantly address the problem of teacher quality.
Too much emphasis has been placed on the testing
of teachers and not enough on what their students have actually learned.
Is that not the whole idea of the education system?
The national Commission on Teaching and America's
Future reported last September that the single most important strategy
for achieving the nation's education goals is to recruit, to prepare and
to support excellent teachers for every school.
That looks all very well on paper, but in West Virginia,
as expressed by Senate Education Chairman Lloyd Jackson, D-Lincoln, historically
it has been difficult for school systems to find certified teachers for
every class every year.
To be sure, there are and have been some excellent
teachers in West Virginia. How do we know? Just ask their students. Don't
simply rely on a hit-or-miss examination. It is difficult for any test
to predict the performance of teachers. It is the same with students -some
people do well on tests and others do not.
To us, there can be no better yardstick of teaching
quality than actual performance on the job. In fact, we are surprised that
school administrators have not made greater use of this actual performance
information in their personnel policies.
If school administrators and education experts are
really serious about raising the bar on teacher quality, they themselves
must demonstrate more efficient methods of recognizing their good teachers'
positive merits. What could be more important?
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board member
Exponent Editorial, March 3, 1999
Harrison EMS should not reject consolidation
out of hand
Given the Harrison County Emergency Squad's announcement
last month of its near-bankrupt status, the recent evaluation of its services
was certainly a much-needed step.
It's just a shame that options outlined in the subsequent
report seemed to waver a bit as to the possibility of consolidation.
After all, the suggestion was brought up initially with the squad's
announcement of its "in-the-red" situation. At that time, it was noted
that Jan-Care had already made an offer to buy the squad, a proposition
that was turned down by the squad board.
But board members also predicted that the other
non-profit ambulance services, including Bridgeport, Salem, Clay-Eagle
and Anmoore, could all face fates similar to their own if consolidation
was not made a reality.
Well, that possibility now seems remote at best.
The evaluation of the squad, conducted by the medical directors of the
emergency squads in Marion and Monongalia counties, took a pretty pessimistic
view of the whole consolidation idea.
In short, the report stated that negotiations must
first occur before consolidation could even be considered. And consolidation,
it noted, could take years to take place.
It's a sentiment apparently shared by other squads.
According to Kelly Blackwell, president of the county's EMS Authority,
none of the other Harrison squads have any interest in combining their
The report did, however, list a number of options
for improving the squad's financial situation. Suggestions included the
expansion of services to include non-emergency runs, improving billing
and accounting practices and more.
We hope that's enough. But if it isn't, we hope
county emergency squads will look a little harder into the possibility
of combining forces.
Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial
board, which includes William J. Sedivy. John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser,
James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.