Currently, only 11 states elect members of the state boards of education. Only four of those states have nonpartisan boards: Louisiana, Utah, Nebraska and Ohio.
West Virginia University professor Bob Bastress, an authority on West Virginia's constitution, said the state's founding document has included appointed state school board members since the very beginning.
While other changes have been made - West Virginia stopped electing its state school superintendent in the 1950s - the original 1863 state constitution called for a nine-member board appointed by the chief executive.
To his knowledge, there are no historical documents explaining why the choice was made.
"I would infer, I think, that it was just a sense that the governor would be more knowledgeable in making the appointments," he said.
And while the constitution does not list specific qualifications for board members, Bastress said governors have generally picked well-educated, civic-minded individuals.
Linger said the state school board would bear little resemblance to its current incarnation if the positions were elected, not appointed.
"Many of the board members wouldn't be on the board if it required running for election, because most of them aren't interested in being politicians. We just want to do the best job we can for the students," he said.
Two of the board's current members, Lloyd Jackson and Tom Campbell, are former lawmakers, but the rest are from varied backgrounds including business people and educators.
Linger said electing board members "would make it into a body that would make its decisions based on political expediency and members' desire to be reelected. I think it would take away from the ability to think independently and make judgments about what's best for the kids."
"If you turn it into a political office, you're going to have a board made up of politicians," he said.
Unger contends the state board already is politicized, since members are appointed by the governor.
"Are you talking about an individual's politics or the people's politics?" he said. "When they overstep their bounds, they would have to offer up to the people."
Senate President Jeff Kessler referred Unger's resolution to the body's Finance and Judiciary committees.
House Constitutional Revision Committee Chairwoman Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, said she finds Unger's ideas "intriguing." She said it's late in the session but she would consider the resolution if it makes it to the House.
"I would not be close-minded to that."
Fleischauer - who is married to Bastress - said she would need more information about the issue, however.