Education panel needs new leader soon

With West Virginia legislators expected to convene a special session on education later this month, a critical leadership need has surfaced. On Tuesday, House of Delegates Education Committee Chairman Danny Hamrick resigned from that post.

Hamrick, R-Harrison, stepped down at the request of House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. The action was taken because Hamrick broke a House rule against having a relationship with a legislative intern.

A capable, decisive Education Committee leader will be needed soon. Planning for the special session already has begun.

It would be nice if we could recommend Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, to lead the committee. That would not be feasible; Republicans control the House, so the committee chair will have to be filled by someone from that party.

One possibility is the committee’s vice chairman, Delegate Mark Dean. His district encompasses parts of Mingo, Logan and Wyoming counties — where improvement in public schools clearly ought to be a concern.

Another possibility is Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, who prior to this year headed the education panel. He was replaced after being named majority whip in the House. Naming him as an interim chairman, to get through the special session, could be wise.

Hanshaw is called upon to make many difficult, important decisions. Placing an effective leader at the head of the education committee is one of them.

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