I am surprised at the controversy that has surrounded Amendment 4. There are a total of four constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot during this General Election. Each of these started as a Joint Resolution that had to pass both houses of the Legislature with a two-thirds majority. This alone indicates that there is broad-based support for each one, but these amendments to our Constitution do not take effect until the citizens of West Virginia vote to approve them.
Now that Election Day is rapidly approaching, the special interest groups have sprung into action to try to sway public opinion. One of these that has attracted a surprising amount of attention from special interest groups trying to defeat it is Amendment 4. Here is what it says:
In my opinion, this is simple common sense. The Legislature is elected by the people to oversee state agencies, and the State Board of Education is the only agency that is exempt from this oversight. The reason why this change to our Constitution is necessary is to clarify language that was misinterpreted in a court decision. Until now, we have had to live with that decision. Here is our chance to correct it.
Who opposes Amendment 4? There are special interest groups that would like to bypass the Legislature by lobbying the State Board of Education to implement programs and policies that are not in the best interests of West Virginia. If you look at what’s happening across the nation with regard to education, you will see our children are being targeted by those with an ideological agenda. The Legislature can and should act as a check and a balance to state Board of Education, but that will not happen unless Amendment 4 passes.
Then, there are those who claim that Amendment 4 will allow the Legislature to “micromanage” the State Board of Education. This is false. The amendment simply ensures that the Board of Education follows the laws that have been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Currently, if the Legislature passes a bill that the state Board of Education does not like, they can circumvent that law through its own rules, and there is no judicial remedy. This needs to change. Amendment 4 will do that.
There are still others who want to vote no on Amendment 4 because they believe that it doesn’t go far enough. To them I would say that if Amendment 4 fails, there will almost certainly be no further attempts to return oversight to the people’s directly elected representatives in the Legislature, as there will likely be no political will to do so for the foreseeable future. Voter approval of Amendment 4 will show that the people of West Virginia care about the state of our schools.
Simply put, the three takeaways that you, as a West Virginia voter, need about Amendment 4:
We have worked hard in the Legislature to fight the special interest groups and pass legislation that will provide for choices for parents who want the best for their children. The West Virginia State Board of Education is not elected. They are appointed by the Governor to nine-year terms. The members of the Legislature are directly elected by you, the voters.
It is time to amend the West Virginia Constitution to give you, the citizens of this state, the final say on education policy in our state. West Virginia is the only state in the country whose state Board of Education has this degree of power, and in turn, the state Board of Education is the only agency in the state that does not have to answer to the Legislature. The will of the people is completely disregarded in this process, and it is time for that to change.
Please vote YES on Amendment 4 this November.