The Herald-Dispatch. June 4, 2023.
Editorial: Loosening rules on high school athletic transfers is a mixed bag
The school choice movement continues to advance as more parents want something better than what their local public schools provide — or what they think their local public schools provide. That perception may be accurate or inaccurate. In politics — and that plays heavily in public education — perceptions carry weight.
But what if the parent of a high school student wants their child learning to play a sport under a different coach?
The West Virginia Legislature made that process easier this past session with the passage of House Bill 2820, which allows a student to transfer to any school and be eligible to play sports there without having to sit out a year. Actually, HB 2820 was written to fund the Hope Scholarship program, which has nothing to do with sports, but the sports part was added toward the end of the session. Indeed, politics and public schools go together like peas and carrots.
Gov. Jim Justice allowed HB 2820 to become law without his signature. He said he supports the scholarship part of the bill, but as a coach himself he could not support the athletic transfer part.
High schools have gotten around recruiting rules and restrictions for years. Some just play the game better than others. Now some of these games can come out in the open, and it’s time to see if choice in athletics works out best for schools and, more important, for teenage athletes. Let’s ponder a few questions:
Why should a good athlete at a school with mediocre teams be prevented from transferring to a school with a good program? Why should a mediocre athlete at a school with an excellent program be prevented from transferring to a school where he might get to play?
If school choice is a good idea for academics, is it a bad idea for athletics?
If an athlete transfers to School A to play for a good team, that means a kid now at School A loses a learning opportunity from getting on the field, and isn’t learning what school is all about?
If a small school doesn’t have enough boys to field a football team, could it recruit enough players from other schools so that more boys have an opportunity to play?
Will coaches recruit good players with the intention of making them sit on the bench? They might not help the coach’s team, but they won’t help another team beat his team, either.
And if a high school transfer portal is open, can NIL (name, image, likeness) be far behind?
So many questions and so few answers.
This transfer portal might be short-lived. In a statement issued in March, Justice said, “I will ask the Legislature next session to revisit the transfer rules, because if we don’t, I fear we’re heading down the wrong path with our high school athletes and opening up the door to many unintended consequences.”
Justice is totally correct about that last part. It’s not the goal of a transfer portal that schools and athletes need to worry about. The unintended consequences will prove this to be either a good idea or a bad one. That will give a good indication of whether the Legislature went too far in micromanaging education or if it made the right call.
Gazette-Mail. June 3, 2023.
Editorial: Justice pulls political stunt by deploying Guard
WV governor and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Justice pulled a tacky political stunt this week by deploying 50 members of the WV National Guard to Texas to address an immigration crisis conveniently laid at the feet of a Democratic president.
Make no mistake, illegal immigration at the country’s southern border, and some of the things that come with it, such as drug smuggling and human trafficking, are real problems. And it’s true the federal government and state governments at the border sink a lot of money and personnel into stemming the flow of illegal crossings into the United States and the thorny elements attached.
But it’s also a problem that spans multiple presidential administrations, Republican and Democrat, and neither Congress nor state governments in the affected area have made meaningful progress on legislation that might help.
Why try to solve a problem when it’s an easy, hot-button issue to weaponize for political convenience?
How, exactly, are 50 Guard members from West Virginia going help address the problems at the border? Not only is it an underwhelming amount of manpower, but Justice didn’t seem to know what the Guard members would be doing, specifically, when he made the announcement.
The decision is transparently faulty, considering the Guard, under an emergency declaration from Justice, was mobilized last year to help bolster West Virginia’s critically understaffed and overcrowded correctional facilities. That situation within West Virginia’s own borders remains a crisis, and the Guard is still on the job, despite warnings from officials that it’s costing the state tens of millions of dollars and isn’t sustainable.
Justice says not to worry. Sending these troops thousands of miles away doesn’t have any impact on the situation in West Virginia’s jails and prisons.
“We’re not going to drop the ball on corrections,” he said.
But that ball has already been dropped and kicked into a storm drain. Justice also mobilized the Guard to help with personnel shortages at correctional facilities in 2017. The problem went mostly unaddressed for five years, which led Justice to call on the Guard again in August 2022. It’s getting close to a year since the governor declared that emergency, and Justice and the Legislature completely ignored the issue during the 2023 regular session.
People are dying in West Virginia jails and prisons that are in bad shape and filled with too many people. Those responsible for maintaining order and inmate care are stretched to the breaking point. For every batch of new corrections officers the state brings in, just as many leave. Morale is poor and so is the pay.
But don’t worry about that, Justice says, it’s all under control, so much so that he’s sending 50 members of the Guard to Texas to wipe out illegal immigration.
It’s a cheap stunt that ignores the problems right under Justice’s nose.
The Intelligencer. June 6, 2023.
Editorial: Getting Back to Work
As state bureaucracy unwinds the changes it made during the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia residents will see another return to “normal” July 1, when work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program resume.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources eased the requirement when residents were experiencing the harshest economic challenges created by the health emergency. But it is past time to make certain those who ask for state help are doing all they can to help themselves, too.
Goodness knows the shortage of workers would indicate there is employment available.
Caseworkers will still be available to speak with those who believe they should be exempted, of course. But the DHHR is right to re-institute another incentive to get people back to work.
West Virginia employers need the workers, capable workers will benefit more than just financially, and taxpayer dollars can be refocused to help those who truly need the hand up.