Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin made public his thoughts on education reform during his Monday inaugural address.
The address - otherwise thin on policy - hit several themes that could form the core of an education package the governor is expected to present to the Legislature next month.
Tomblin has had more than a year to work on a plan since he received the findings of a $750,000 audit of the state school system. To date, little action has been taken based on that audit, which claimed it could save the state millions.
"Everybody's waiting on the governor," said the Rev. Matthew Watts in an interview after the inaugural. Watts pays close attention to state education policy and delivered an invocation at Monday's inauguration.
Tomblin said the state spends as much per capita on education as other states yet has students who are "falling behind."
Tomblin's list of possible to-dos included improving the state's vocational training programs, making sure the state's teachers colleges are in step with modern classrooms and ensuring students have enough time in school.
"It doesn't need to be this way - and it must stop," Tomblin said.
"That means focusing to ensure our youngest get started out on the right track, with meaningful programs designed to make sure that, by the third grade, children have the key building blocks for a lifetime of learning," Tomblin said in a lengthy passage of his address on education.
"That means making sure our vocational training programs are responsive to the needs of today's economy. That means making sure our institutions of higher learning have programs designed to prepare our teachers to teach in today's world. That means making sure that our teachers have the support they need in the classrooms. That means making sure our students are guaranteed the instructional time they need to excel.
"That means making sure our school systems have the ability to be innovative. And that means making sure parents become more involved in their children's education and learning and stay behind them."
This suggests a far-reaching series of changes.