Member David Perry, D-Fayette, is a school principal. David Pethtel, D-Wetzel, George Ambler, R-Greenbrier, and Adam Young, D-Nicholas, are teachers. David Evans, R-Marshall, and Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, are retired educators.
Perry, Pethtel, Young and Rowan all are WVEA members.
WVEA president Dale Lee praised Thompson's decision to make Stowers the committee's vice chairman and Pasdon minority chairwoman. He said he believes committee members still would want to hear from the unions.
"I would hope they would continue the practice of bringing in the experts," he said. "The experts are the teachers and service professionals who work with students every day."
The remaining 14 members come from a variety of backgrounds. They include several businessmen, a few public relations specialists, a registered nurse and a pizzeria owner.
Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley, owns Anthony's Pizza in Inwood, Berkeley County. Barrett ousted Republican Walter Duke in November's election.
Duke, a retired educator first elected to House in 2002, formerly was the education committee's minority chairman. Amanda Pasdon, R-Monongalia, will take Duke's place as minority chairperson. Pasdon is the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's business development director.
The biggest problem in the education committee this year might be the influx of freshman members, said Judy Hale, president of the American Federation of Teachers' West Virginia chapter. Eight of the committee's 11 Republican members are brand new legislators.
"A lot of people think just because they went to school, they understand education," she said. "There will be maybe a longer learning curve."
Beyond that, Hale did not express any concerns about changes to the education committee.
"I think with education, both sides of the aisle are interested in doing what's right for kids. It's just a matter of how you get there," she said.
Andes served on the education committee in the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions but then asked for a new appointment.
"After two years of not being able to point to a single bill that we passed that would improve the quality of schools in West Virginia, I asked the House leadership to move me to a different committee so I could better contribute to moving our state forward," Andes told the Daily Mail in 2011.
Andes said union influence in the committee previously has killed many controversial education bills.
Andes said unions opposed expanding "Innovation Zone" legislation to allow charter schools in the state, so the bill died in committee. A push to require annual teacher evaluations met a similar fate, he said, and while some lawmakers have called for sweeping changes to the way county school systems draw their calendars, the education committee has approved only modest changes.
Now Andes is "cautiously optimistic" the House Education Committee will pass robust reform measures this session.