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Telegram editorial for Thursday, September 24, 1998

Good for Marion, Upshur boards for keeping hands free of federal control

Thank goodness there are two county school systems in north central West Virginia that have the gumption to turn down what could have been a chance for federal money -- funds that would have helped pay for implementing the school to work program.

Boards in Upshur and Marion counties have decided not to apply for $125,000 grants made available to counties to implement the school to work program.

Senate Bill 300 outlines the requirements of the program that students learn more about careers and get some on-the-job experience while still attending public schools. The federal funds that come from the grants must be used for staff training or to purchase textbooks for career classes.

Fine. Considering the difficulties people have finding employment, especially in the Mountain State, we have no problem with that kind of training. More training for high-tech jobs might be a good thing.

But the Marion board was not comfortable with applying for funds that could ultimately create problems, according to President James "Rat" Saunders, who contends that teachers, parents and the community aren't that familiar with school to work and what would happen if the board accepted the money.

When 16 states -- nearly one third of the nation -- choose to turn down the federal funds in favor of adopting their own versions of the program, we tend to sit up and take notice. We suspect that there are serious strings attached to accepting the federal grant money.

If legislation should be changed and a county board has accepted the money from the U.S. government, there may be no turning back.

Upshur County's board also opted to reject the money, even though the county school to work steering committee in August approved accepting it by a 13-9 vote.

We're in total agreement with a Upshur administrator, who explained that the board didn't feel a need to compromise and give too much control to the federal government.

The government already has too much control of the many facets of our daily lives as it is.

-- Robert F. Stealey