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Education reform moves through legislature despite teacher opposition

(Charleston) Senate Bill 451 or the education bill- so far criticized by teachers and teaching unions- passed the first reading in the Senate today.

The Senate Minority Leader said Democrats plan to offer amendments to the bill. Sen. Prezioso said, “Obviously there are parts of the bill we don’t like and those are amendments that we will work on in our caucus and those are the amendments we will offer.”

The bill moves to the second reading in the Senate tomorrow. So far Governor Jim Justice has said he will veto the bill if it includes paycheck protection, provisions for charters schools or a non-severability clause. All are currently in the bill.

Educators were present at the capitol to give lawmakers feedback on the swiftly moving piece of legislation. Teachers have called parts of the legislation “retaliatory” for the teachers strike last year. Principal of Brushfork Elementary in Mercer County Shellie Simpson said lawmaker’s thinking around education reform is outdated. “We feel like they definitely are disconnected from what really happens. A lot of the times when we talk to legislators they’re referring to things maybe ten, fifteen years ago that happened at schools. But our schools are very different today. And our kids have needs that are much more specific and much more targeted towards mental health, social work, and meeting their basic needs.”

Haley Brown

Multimedia Journalist

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