UPDATE: Delegate Mary Poling, chairwoman of the House Education Committee, sent a response through a spokesperson to my previous blog post. It’s included below in it’s entirety:
“It is not uncommon for educators and others interested in the work of the Education Committee to ask me to sign letters they would like distributed to all members on the House floor for informational purposes. I signed Ms. Minney’s letter to allow all members to read her perspective as a classroom teacher on this proposed legislation. I have assisted with the distribution of information to House members from others with differing perspectives on the legislation.”
Poling did not dispute anything in the post. She also did not say if she was for or against the governor’s bill. It’s expected to go through some changes in the Senate before it makes it to the House.
ORIGINAL POST: As legislators, educators, lobbyists and journalists prepare for the Senate Education Committee’s discussion of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education bill, whispers are already circulating through the other legislative chamber.
Two documents were placed on the desks of every delegate in the House this morning. The first was a blog post blasting Teach For America, a national nonprofit organization that recruits college graduates to teach in high-need areas. It had the initials “MTF” for Delegate Mike Ferro, D-Marshall.
The second was a three page letter from a teacher– Delegate Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison, said he distributed the letter in the House, and spoke with its creator, Katrina Minney. The letter states Minney is the chairwoman of the English department at Sissonville High School. Iaquinta said Minney told him she sent the letter to every lawmaker, but he wanted to make sure everyone got the chance to read the correspondence.
Minney discusses Tomblin’s bill for the majority of her letter: she’s not a big fan.
“SB359 is NOT an answer; it’s the exact opposite of what we need!” Minney writes.
She also discusses what she does in the course of her day, pointing to the amount of work done by the average teacher. She states too many — including the media — blame teachers for poor student performance, when there are other social factors at play.
At the end, she asks legislators to reject the bill.
Iaquinta and 12 other people signed Minney’s letter. Iaquinta said he signed the bill because it was “well written.” He asked others to sign if they felt the same way, and said he didn’t think a signature meant that person agreed or disagreed with the contents of the letter.
It appears as though Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour, is among those who signed the letter. Her name is clearly legible, but the Daily Mail has yet to get the chance to confirm with Poling it is her signature. Other legible signatures include delegates Linda Phillips (D-Wyoming), Ron Fragale (D-Harrison), Dave Pethtel (D-Wetzel), Anthony Barrill (D-Monongalia) , Ricky Moye (D-Raleigh) and Ferro.
The Daily Mail could not confirm with each individual legislator that he or she had signed the letter. Iaquinta said he asked many delegates to sign the letter.
Keep checking charlestondailymail.com and the Capitol Notebook blog for updates on the governor’s education bill throughout the afternoon.