Rick Thompson values public education and public education employees. Growing up poor in Wayne County, he credits caring teachers and service personnel for helping him to be where he is today. Rick knows, from personal experience, public education is the path to economic prosperity for our children and economic development for our state. For these reasons public education will be a priority in his administration and student achievement will be at the top of the list. Rick believes in order to build a stronger public education system we must address:
Dropout Prevention and Discipline
The statistics are compelling -- kids who fail to finish high school earn, on average, 50% less than kids who graduate. Dropouts end up costing society in terms of lost wages, public assistance and increased incarceration rates. Every dollar we spend on dropout prevention pays enormous dividends down the line. As Governor, Rick Thompson will make lowering the dropout rate a real priority. In addition, he'll work to make sure our schools are safe and secure places to learn and work.
Truancy, discipline and study problems often have their genesis at home rather than in the classroom. In today's society, where there are more single parent households or where both mom and dad work outside the home, parents are often hard pressed to be as involved in their child's education as they would like to be. Rick Thompson recognizes the need to work with employers and schools to provide more opportunity for parents to be a part of their children's education.
Rick Thompson believes that in order to attract and keep high quality teachers West Virginia must raise teacher pay to a competitive level with surrounding states. As Governor, he'll introduce a multi-year pay plan that reflects a true commitment to education and education employees.
Planning and Collaboration
Top school systems provide teachers with adequate planning and collaboration time. Finland, for example, affords teachers 15 hours a week for planning and 150 hours a year for professional development. West Virginia teachers, want, deserve and expect more planning, collaboration and professional development time. As Governor, Rick Thompson will work to see they get it.
Time to Teach
Mandates from bureaucrats have created a teaching environment where the curriculum is regimented and teachers spend more time filling out forms and less time teaching. Indeed, educators often feel like they are "documented to death" in terms of paperwork requirements. Teachers need the freedom and flexibility to give adequate instruction time to their students. At the end of the day, it comes down to a trained teacher in the classroom doing what needs to be done to get their students to learn and grow.
Office of Education Performance Audits
The Office of Education Performance Audits is a great concept but too often puts schools and auditors in an adversarial relationship. As Governor, Rick Thompson will revamp The Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) to create a system in which auditors, principals and teachers work together to help schools improve to provide the best education for our kids.
Technology has changed the way we live and learn in so many positive ways. However, technology for technology's sake can create problems for educators when schools lack technicians to service and provide training for smart boards, computers and other equipment. As Governor, Rick Thompson will fight to make sure all our schools have broadband access and the proper technology support. In addition, Rick will investigate the feasibility of migrating to electronic textbooks. E-Textbooks promise to provide a cost savings to taxpayers and will ensure that our kids have the most up to date information at their fingertips.