On Wednesday night he said there was no proof the current hiring system didn't work.
Christine Campbell, presidentelect of the state of the American Federation of Teachers, agrees.
"There is no research to show that by not hiring that most senior person, that your children, that their academic achievement doesn't go up. Show me the evidence, and we'll talk. " Campbell said Wednesday night.
Stowers is a member of the WVEA and was endorsed by the union in September. However, he has been at Horace Mann for 10 years and is confident more flexibility in hiring would yield tangible benefits.
At times a principal might believe someone with less seniority was the better teacher. Failing to hire that person could negatively impact student learning, Stowers said.
"I think the vast majority of administrators are going to pick teachers they feel are going to improve student achievement," he said.
Tomblin said in his speech that teachers and principals must have a greater role in choosing other teachers in their school "if we are going to make schools more accountable for their results."
Campbell said she would be open to more teacher involvement and cited a system already in place in Putnam County.
She doesn't want a system that relies totally on a principal or superintendent's decision.
There are bad apples who want to employ their cousins, Stowers said. But there are ways to involve more people that would improve hiring practices.
Right now Horace Mann tries to involve other teachers, Stowers said. At the middle school level, teachers work in teams. If the school needs to fill a position, administrators will call in other members of the teaching team to sit in on interviews.
Then they, too, experience the frustration.
"I think teachers become much more aware and sensitive to how rigorous our hiring laws are when they are more involved in the process," Stowers said.
Teachers are discouraged when their choice is not the person hired. When their choice is selected, they're more likely to be supportive. They might try to make sure the teacher is successful because they played a role in the hiring.
That team input is a benefit when hiring teachers fresh out of college, Stowers said. If several recent graduates apply for a job, the choice can come down to whom other teachers feel is the best fit.
Changing hiring laws wouldn't necessarily result in better teachers being recruited or retained, he said. Like union officials, Stowers believes teacher pay raises are needed to attract more applicants.
However, he has heard teachers shy away from positions because of fears concerning seniority.
"If teachers knew that they have a better shot than they do now, I think you'd get more applications from within the (school) system," Stowers said.
Stowers, Campbell, Lee and Poling all said they were eager to see what Tomblin would include in his education bill.
Tomblin spokesperson Amy Shuler Goodwin said the administration would discuss the bill after it was introduced sometime next week.