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Decrying school politics is just hypocrisy

The gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by teachers union leaders over the state school board's firing of former Superintendent Jorea Marple is a wonderful display of pretension and hypocrisy.

Her firing was political, her supporters cry.

Of course her firing is political. Her hiring was.

It's a political position. Always has been. Always will be.

Always should be.

We hold school officials accountable through boards of education, who are elected at the local level and appointed by elected governors at the state level.

West Virginia spends $3.5 billion a year on schools, ranking the state eighth in education expenditures relative to income and per-pupil expenditures.

The schools fail to deliver.

West Virginia is 47th in academic achievement, according to the liberal Kids Count.

Someone has to be held accountable for this overspending and underachieving. Why not Marple?

I do not like the way the state Board of Education fired Marple.

I also do not like that the Jim Phares, superintendent of Randolph County schools, was apparently recruited behind the scenes.

But the board was well within its rights to fire her.

The answer to 47th place in academic achievement is not spending more money on an ever-expanding bureaucracy that continues mission creep.

We have tried that for 30-plus years.

School reform requires allowing a lot of change - including more local control of the schools, an engaged staff, parental involvement and a motivated student body.

In short, what Marple fostered as principal of Tiskelwah Elementary School before she became an educrat.


Tuesday marked the 95th anniversary of the birth of Robert C. Byrd.

Friday is Lincoln Day, a clumsily named state holiday that allows state workers to take off and go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.

As governor, Sen. Joe Manchin moved to swap the day after Thanksgiving with Lincoln's Birthday as a holiday for state workers. Governors had been giving state workers the day after Thanksgiving off anyway. This made it official.

Republicans suggested naming the new holiday Lincoln Day.

Readers know I did not like Byrd's politics or his racist past, but I realize most West Virginians forgave and adored him.

So my suggestion is to dump the Lincoln and rename the holiday Robert C. Byrd Day. To be sure, wiseacres would crack that Byrd Day follows Bird Day.

Since everything else in the state is named for him, why not?

Besides, his original name was Sale - Calvin Cornelius Sale, Jr. - and sales are big on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

It's a holiday unique to West Virginia, and you do not get more West Virginian than Robert C. Byrd.


"Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said the Republican Party 'got whiter and more male' while the Democratic caucus is 'majority minority and female'," Cybercast News Service reported.

And what exactly is wrong with being white or being male?

As I recall, white males gave us the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the end of slavery (at a great cost of more than 300,000 white, male union soldiers alone), suffrage for women and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Need I remind her that half the support for that last act came from Republicans?

I won't say the Democratic Party became darker and more female, but I will note that its leadership has become dumber, at least in the case of Wasserman-Schultz.

Surber may be reached at



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