As the Chair of the West Virginia Home Educators Association, I’m responding to comments made by Dr. Steven Paine, the state superintendent of schools, to members of the WV State Board of Education (WVBOE) on Thursday.

His remarks targeted homeschooling as one reason for the sharp decline in enrollment and indicated many families are “bailing out because we’re putting a lot of pressure on them to go to school and behave”. He claimed more accountability is needed for those who choose to educate their children in the privacy of their own home.

In October, we learned that for the fourth consecutive year more than half of all WV public school teachers missed more than 10 days out of their 200-day contract. These are the WV Department of Education (WVDE) numbers and they show far more disturbing trends. Around 11% of teachers missed more than 20 days of work! A staggering 25% of teachers in McDowell and Brooke Counties were absent greater than 10% of their work days. If a child missing 11 instructional days suffers disruption, imagine the negative impact an entire class full of children without the regular teacher who is being paid to teach them suffer over and over again for 10, 15, even 20 days or more!

This isn’t the only bad news regarding public school teachers in the Mountain State. Year after year we have teachers abusing youngsters emotionally, physically and even sexually. From preschool to high school, from Berkeley County to Wyoming County students in WV public schools have experienced assault, intimidation, humiliation and rape at the hands of the very people to which parents entrust their precious children.. These acts are hardly caused by homeschool families.

Accountability is in desperate need. I urge Dr. Paine and the WVBOE to begin holding teachers and other staff accountable. Stop passing the trash. Do your jobs! Protect the children not criminals! Focus on fixing the public school house instead of worrying about homeschooling. Make WV public schools a place to which families flock rather than flee.

Stephanie E. Butcher
Chair, West Virginia Home Educators Association

Ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or the members of the Governing Board of WVHEA.