By the time you read this, it is possible that the outcome of West Virginia’s special legislative session dedicated to education reform has been determined. As you are likely aware, on Monday, June 17, the House of Delegates has begun its portion of the special session — the Senate has already passed important reforms like education savings accounts and charter schools a few weeks ago.
While the number of possibilities may seem daunting, there are really only two outcomes: education choice for the thousands of families and children trapped in schools that don’t work for them … or not. Of course, there may be permutations of one or the other, perhaps charter schools capped at two and a very limited ESA program meant only for special needs or very low-income, but, by and large, there are two possible outcomes. I think it is safe to say that either choice has the possibility of changing the state’s trajectory for generations to come.
One trajectory, let’s call it the “status quo,” will continue to trap children in learning environments that don’t work for them, sacrifice bright futures on the mantle of political power, and force our state to continue on its downward educational path.
The other trajectory, let’s call it, “hope and change,” will be a seismic paradigm shift in West Virginia. Children, no longer constrained by mom and dad’s income level, will be given the opportunity to forge a future based on their own learning needs. Families can find the right educational fit, based on the values and curriculum they want passed down to the next generation. Powerful political interests will no longer be able to hold children hostage by shutting down schools across the state — children will be educated irrespective of what legislation is being debated in the halls of the Capitol building.
The status quo future looks a lot like West Virginia’s past. I am a native West Virginian, and I can trace our family’s roots here back hundreds — yes, hundreds — of years. While I love it here, I do not want West Virginia’s future to resemble its past. Our people deserve better. Our children deserve better. Our future can be better.
Regardless of the legislative outcome, though, the Cardinal Institute will continue to advocate for solutions that we feel will move West Virginia forward in a positive direction. We will educate West Virginians on what works and what doesn’t. We will continue to push back against extremist rhetoric, misinformation, and the entrenched interests that so richly benefit from the status quo. The Cardinal Institute will continue to fight for free markets, education choice, and a better, brighter future for all West Virginians. West Virginia depends on us.