W.Va. Schools Chief Defends Teachers To Lawmakers

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West Virginia's new state schools superintendent is urging the Legislature not to beat up on teachers and administrators during its upcoming session.

Superintendent Jim Phares on Tuesday said it's clear that students lag behind their peers nationally in many measures of academic achievement.

Phares also reminded the House-Senate interim Education Committee that the state school board has largely embraced the recent audit critical of the current education system.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin plans to push several audit recommendations during the session, which starts Wednesday.

But Phares said that while it may be easy to blame teachers and principals, it's also wrong. Phares said these front-line staffers hold the key to improving student performance and must be supported.

Phares also advocated a stronger role for the state's Regional Education Service Agencies.