Public Education

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear how schools are using federal and state dollars to cope with COVID-19. Also, in this show, we hear about a housing complex in southern West Virginia built for teachers, a Black Lives Matter march in Kingwood, and we hear about author Larry Tye’s new biography, “Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.”

W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources

The West Virginia Department of Education announced that eight counties will be remote-learning only for the week of Sept. 13. State officials rolled out updated data Saturday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m.

Monongalia, Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mingo, Monroe and Putnam counties will not be open for in-person instruction this week.

Debra Corbett sits at her desk at Ranson Elementary School where she was the principal for 31 years. She retired this year after nearly four decades in West Virginia public education.
Courtesy Photo


Debra Corbett always loved education. Coming from a family of educators, it was something she said she always wanted to do. Her mother, aunts and uncles were all teachers.

“I heard a lot about, when the family got together, about school, about kids,” Corbett said. “It made me want to be in education … to somehow support parents and make a difference in student lives.”

Corbett retired this year after 31 years as principal of Ranson Elementary School in Ranson, Jefferson County. Prior to that, she was an elementary school teacher. She said her biggest takeaways in her career are the importance of compassion, to be gentle, to show support to teachers and students and help them see they can succeed.

On this West Virginia Morning, thousands of kids head back to school across the state. We hear advice from one educator with decades of experience. Also, in this show, we hear how forest managers, for decades, have started small fires of accumulated dead leaves to help prevent larger, more dangerous blazes – but some are concerned this increases climate change.

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The West Virginia Department of Education announced Saturday that nine counties will begin with only remote learning for the week of Sept. 6 through 12. State officials rolled out updated data Saturday at 9 p.m.


Monongalia, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Putnam and Wayne counties will not initially open for in-person instruction. 


Empty classroom, school, classroom, desks
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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango and union leaders in West Virginia education say Gov. Jim Justice and state officials are not doing enough for a safe reopening of schools next week. 

About 50,000 children so far in West Virginia have signed up for virtual schooling in fall 2020.
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Across West Virginia, families have been promised the option of virtual schooling in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And many families are considering it for fall 2020. About 50,000 children so far in West Virginia have already signed up for virtual school, according to the West Virginia Department of Education.

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear about an ongoing project at West Virginia Public Broadcasting called Edible Mountain, which is highlighting the wild edible foods that grow in abundance throughout Appalachia. Also, in this show, we hear from a group advocating for public schooling in West Virginia to start out virtually this fall.

West Virginia Education Association's President Dale Lee attends a Senate Education Committee meeting on Jan. 24 2019.
Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A West Virginia teachers’ union is urging public schools to avoid face-to-face instruction when students return next month due to the coronavirus.

The West Virginia Education Association suggested the online-only start Thursday based on a survey of the union’s membership.

Members of the Our Students First Coalition gather on Aug. 12, 2020 outside the West Virginia Education building on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, W.Va.
Jenny Anderson / Our Students First Coalition

A coalition of teachers and public school advocates are asking for West Virginia schools to start remotely for the first 14 days with in-person instruction beginning only after 14 consecutive days of no new coronavirus cases in the state.

The Our Students First Coalition also wants state officials to allow students to return to in-person learning – on a county-by-county basis – if cases drop to zero in certain areas.

On this West Virginia Morning, the traditional start of the school year is coming like a freight train, and educational leaders are trying to prepare for the unknown. We hear from West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch and other officials. Also, in this show, we hear a story about efforts to save an endangered plant in Appalachia.

West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango speaks to the public and media at a press conference in Charleston on July 20, 2020.
Ben Salango / Facebook Live

West Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Ben Salango, a Democrat, joined members of the state’s American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO chapters Monday to call on Gov. Jim Justice to outline how he intends to use federal money to help public schools open safely this fall.

Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Bondy Shay Gibson speaks with board members and the community over Zoom in a special meeting about reopening on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Last week, Gov. Jim Justice ordered all public schools in West Virginia open for the 2020-2021 school year beginning Sept. 8. Schools must provide 180 instructional days and must have a five-day school week.

Of course, this could all change depending on how the coronavirus pandemic evolves. But county school boards are starting to prepare for that date and discuss how a return to school in a pandemic would look.

On May 14, 1982, Judge Arthur Recht handed down a legal ruling that reshaped the course of public education in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a historian of public schooling in the U.S. turned education advocate visited the state over the weekend. She joined in an event celebrating the teachers strike of 2018.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, joins host Suzanne Higgins to discuss the Republican agenda for the 2020 West Virginia Legislative session. Senior Reporter Dave Mistich also joins Higgins on set to discuss the latest news and legislative action from the statehouse.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, gives her opening remarks during the 2019 Legislative Wrap Up Breakfast in Martinsburg.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A special session to address education in West Virginia is just around the corner, and lawmakers from the Eastern Panhandle are making plans to reintroduce controversial legislation next month.

Arria Belli / Wikimedia Commons

Public roundtable forums on education in West Virginia are complete and now state officials will examine the information to offer for a special legislative session to address school issues.

In this reporter roundtable, we recap the week’s proceedings over Senate Bill 451 – a massive bill to reform public education in West Virginia. We bring you up-to-date on where the bill is now and where it’s heading.

We bring you another Friday Reporter Roundtable. Host Suzanne Higgins is joined by statehouse reporters to recap the week and look ahead to the next. We explore the massive education reform bill, the debate over legalizing cannabis in West Virginia, child welfare needs, and the latest on legislation related to an Intermediate Court of Appeals.

A huge education reform bill was revealed in the Senate Education Committee. We bring you up-to-date on the bill’s latest action, and we also take a closer look at broadband expansion legislation moving through the statehouse.

Fourth-graders at North Jefferson Elementary School in Kearneysville, Jefferson County prep dirt for planting in one of their three raised garden beds.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community members are rallying around a school in the Eastern Panhandle. They want to build an outdoor classroom so that kids can get into nature more readily. The goal is to improve academic achievement and provide more opportunities - especially for kids from low-income areas.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear about a growing educational trend to get young students outside more often; how an elementary school in the Eastern Panhandle aims to provide more opportunities to its students with an outdoor classroom. Also, we hear a panel discussion from Wheeling on race and living as a minority in the historically white state of West Virginia.

Teachers John and Kerry Guerini of Fayetteville, West Virginia, hold signs at a rally at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
John Raby / Associated Press

The public education uprisings that began in West Virginia and spread to Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky share similar origin stories.

Teachers, long tired of low wages and a dearth of state funding, begin talking to each other online.

Their Facebook groups draw tens of thousands of members. They share stories of their frustrations and then they demand change.

The West Virginia Board of Education has proposed lowering some requirements to become a public school teacher.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Saturday that among the proposed changes are exempting education bachelor's degree holders who meet minimum grade point averages from having to pass a basic knowledge test.

Victoria L. Cann / The Exponent Telegram

A West Virginia high school football coach who led his team to three state championships has resigned after being charged in a solicitation case.

Media outlets report 34-year-old Bridgeport High coach Josh Nicewarner submitted a resignation letter to the Harrison County Board of Education.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to approve all but one of a county's proposed public school closures.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education has voted a second time against consolidating schools in Nicholas County.

The vote came one day before a court hearing in a lawsuit against the state over the first vote.

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West Virginia has authorized its county school boards to offer virtual school, where students in kindergarten through high school can learn online.

Under the law approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jim Justice, a county board or a multi-county consortium can create a virtual instruction program and contract with online education providers starting July 1.

On The Legislature Today, a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state is bypassing the committee process, putting it on the fast track for a vote in the House.

The vote Thursday night has been called historic in the chamber, but several delegates argued pulling the bill out of the committee process was the only way members would get to vote in a medical marijuana bill this session.