Kudos to Mary Jane Baniak and the Mineral County Board of Education for scheduling their own educational forum next week.

By Liz Beavers
Kudos to Mary Jane Baniak and the Mineral County Board of Education for scheduling their own educational forum next week.
When Gov. Jim Justice called for a special session for the legislators to try a “do-over” on education reform, the West Virginia Department of Education immediately set up a schedule of public forums at various locations across the state to provide the opportunity for educators and the public to express their thoughts on education needs in the state.
Understandably, the WVDE couldn’t hold a meeting in each of the 55 counties, and the closest meeting to Mineral County is in Berkeley Springs.
Mary Jane, who expressed her concern about the lack of input from educators in the massive education bill that occupied so much of the 2019 legislative session, therefore spearheaded the arrangement of a meeting here in Mineral County.
It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, immediately following the board of education meeting at Frankfort High School.
She hopes everyone concerned about the future of education in our county and state will attend.
From the issues discussed that night, five main issues will be prioritized and presented at the WVDE meeting in Berkeley Springs on April 3.
Not only should every parent or guardian of a school-age child come to the meeting at Frankfort, but I also strongly encourage all of our state delegates and senators to attend as well.
When Mary Jane said in a board meeting last month that none of our legislators had reached out to her or any of the other board members to see what their thoughts were on the education bill, she drew some fire from at least two of the lawmakers who said they had either: 1. Set up a meeting and were stood up, or 2. Met with educators in their home county.
Mary Jane was apparently not alone in her concerns, however, as the Governor was very emphatic in his call for the special session that the legislators utilize their time until the session is scheduled to talk with their constituents and educators in their counties to see what they think the real needs are.
I would therefore encourage Delegates Ruth Rowan, Gary Howell and John Paul Hott, as well as Senators Dave Sypolt, Charles Trump, Craig Blair and Randy Smith to be present next Tuesday and ready to listen.
I’m not saying they didn’t do some things right, and I’m not saying they didn’t vote for what they thought was best.
What I am saying is this is their chance to truly listen to the folks who are in the classrooms day in and day out and are far better qualified to know what the needs are.
There is nothing more important to our future than our children and we cannot afford to short-change their education because of lack of information or a refusal to consider someone else’s opinion.
Let’s hope there’s a full house at Frankfort High School Tuesday, and everyone there will be ready to calmly discuss the issues and truly listen to one another.
Our kids deserve it.

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info