Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

On to the new year…

Well, Christmas is in the books. All went well at the Given household. I would have to describe it as controlled chaos. All the kids liked their presents. Little Memphis particularly liked the battery powered riding dinosaur that Nana and Poppie got him. It didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. Although, no one’s toes were safe for the rest of the evening.  

While my wallet is in recovery mode, and will be for the next several weeks, we can now look to the new year. 2023 has been good to us and 2024 is off to a good start with the news of Memphis’ baby sister, (“Red” as he calls her) which should make her debut around the first of August.

As we leave this year, I can only hope the construction work between Sutton and Gassaway is nearing an end. We have heard endless complaints about the extended delays resulting from the installation of new culverts on Route 4. We have experienced those delays first handed. Twice last week. I turned around and went to Flatwoods. One time I waited 20 minutes the other was over 30. I think State Law says that traffic is not to be stalled for more than 15 minutes, but obviously no one is paying attention.

While the road is rough, the area of the new bridge in Gassaway has traffic flowing easily again. While still an inconvenience, and sometimes unclear exactly what the motoring public was supposed to do, the delays were minimal in most instances… unlike the culvert replacement.

I received a news release last week from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy that I found quite interesting. It was titled “Hope Scholarship Reduces Resources for Public Schools, Lacks Necessary Oversight.”

I have complained in this space that these scholarships are counterproductive for public education. It is only a matter of time before the topic is back in our court systems. Does anyone remember the Recht Decision of several years ago? I will have more later, but here is a little introduction…

The vast majority of school-age children in West Virginia attend and receive their education through the public school system, and West Virginia’s state constitution requires “a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” But a growing Hope Scholarship voucher program is diverting public resources away from the public education system and the nearly 250,000 children served by it, with little oversight and no public accountability measures.

A new analysis from the WVCBP provides the first in-depth look at the harmful impacts of diverting taxpayer dollars away from the public education system to unaccountable private schools. Statewide, public school districts will lose an estimated $21.6 million in state aid funding for the 2024-25 school year.

The brief also examines the lack of necessary oversight and public reporting on the Hope Scholarship, making it impossible for parents, citizens, and policymakers to assess the impacts of the program on student achievement. Currently the program has no cost or enrollment caps, no income eligibility limits, and requires no public accountability through collection and publication of program data.

Our legislators need to quit playing political football with our childrens’ education!