Multiple-bill approach is best for education reform
Republicans in the West Virginia state Senate ignored the advice about putting all one’s eggs in a single basket last winter. They packaged a variety of public school bills into one “omnibus education bill” — and it failed to pass. As a result, a variety of improvements on which there was wide, bipartisan agreement were not enacted.
Reportedly, Senate leaders are considering the same strategy for a special session on education. Their catch-all bill would be labeled the “Student Success Act.”
Better approaches are being suggested by both House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and some Democrat lawmakers.
Because of the failure earlier this year, legislators will go into a special session, probably in June, to try again on public school improvements.
On Tuesday, emphasizing that delegates will consider whatever bills are sent to them by the Senate, Hanshaw said his chamber will try a different method. Instead of a single bill, the House will see dozens of proposals, he explained. And, he added, he has established four special committees to consider the bills. Normal procedure would have been to route them through the House Education Committee, but the four-panel plan should speed things along.
Also this week, Democrats in the Legislature proposed their own set of bills involving schools. They, too, have decided not to bundle everything in a single package.
That makes sense. Once lawmakers return to Charleston for the education session, there will be disagreements about some proposals. Charter schools and education savings accounts are among controversial issues. They were the primary reason the omnibus bill died last winter.
Acrimony over some school-related proposals should not be allowed to scuttle others on which most lawmakers seem to agree. Hanshaw is correct to foresee a knock-down, drag-out fight over some issues, and also to do what he can to keep that from holding up other types of improvements.