Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W.Va., on a new curriculum for career technical centers:
A paradox of the nation's current economic condition is that millions of people are unemployed yet many employers are reporting difficulty finding candidates who have the skills to fill available jobs.
That gap is troubling. It suggests that the nation's educational institutions are falling short in providing the skills and knowledge to students that are necessary for them to find a place in the 21st century workplace. It also could be a sign that educators and employers aren't communicating well enough about the fields that hold the most promise for jobs in the years ahead.
Fortunately, there are efforts under way to address this issue.
One is being undertaken in West Virginia, where representatives from the education field and business and industry are teaming up to develop courses aimed at preparing students for careers in advanced energy, power and engineered systems. The Mountain State was among 12 states chosen by the Southern Regional Education Board to participate in forming the "Preparation for Tomorrow" curriculum for career technical centers.
The program requires each of the states to develop four standards-based career technical courses in areas of high-demand career areas attuned to that state's economic needs and opportunities. The states will then share the specifics of the courses with each other.
West Virginia picked the energy and power curriculum for secondary schools to prepare high school students for potential careers, with the courses being made available at career technical centers statewide. Choosing an energy industry focus makes sense for West Virginia, considering the growing natural gas opportunities in the state as well as its long history in coal production.
One of the program's advantages is that it brings together educational and industry officials to develop what should be curricula focused on the energy industry's needs. American Electric Power engineers and representatives of the oil and gas industry are involved, as well as faculty from Marshall University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College.
Another is that West Virginia will be in a position to implement courses developed in other states if the subject matter helps fill workforce demands without having to create the courses here. ..
The so-called skills gap between job-seekers and available positions won't be eliminated overnight, but it's heartening to see that various stakeholders are finding the means to attack it.
The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette on WVU football fan violence:
Some West Virginia University students — supposedly young scholars pursuing higher learning — go berserk when their team wins a football game. This infantile behavior raises doubt that they're mature enough to attend a university, or whether their parents should shell out thousands of dollars for their education.
On the night of Oct. 6, 29 street fires were set in Morgantown and crowds as large as 1,000 threw bottles, rocks and other objects at police. Some officers were hurt. Rioters attempted to overturn cars. About 15 were arrested.
Not all of the WVU student body engages in this mayhem — and many troublemakers aren't students, just liquored-up football fans from around the region. Regardless, it's shameful.
Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla says he may propose a $20 "student impact fee" on each of WVU's 30,000 enrollees, which would raise $1.2 million for the city to hire extra police and firefighters to cope with the juvenile chaos. The mayor admitted that charging all students would be unfair, when "it's a small percentage" who wreck the town.
The university's Student Government Association repeatedly has tried to dissuade students from lighting street fires after WVU football games, but the attempt has been futile.
Ken Gray, WVU student affairs vice president, lamented the "unfortunate" and "unacceptable" conduct. He said university officials will scan videotapes to identify offenders, who will be disciplined — possibly expelled.
Expelling students who turn violent in victory mobs would be a grim result, but perhaps it's the only way to break the sordid pattern at Morgantown.
Meanwhile, WVU officials should strive to deliver a message that a university is a place for serious advanced learning — not a place where football becomes so dominant that it causes students to behave like animals.
The Journal, Martinsburg, W.Va., on rural health care:
Ensuring residents of rural areas have access to health care is an enormous challenge in our state. A new program at West Virginia University may help.
Studies involving the well-being of children often rank West Virginia well down the list of states concerning dental health. That is despite efforts by many dentists to provide low-cost or even free care for children who need it.
But in areas where few or no dentists can be found, both children and adults have to rely on long trips or traveling clinics for care.
WVU's program will use federal money to provide incentives to dentistry students to practice in the state after they graduate. Students can receive as much as $50,000 to help defray the cost of medical school if they agree to practice for at least two years in "areas of great need."
Unfortunately, the program will be open to no more than five students a year — but it is a start in ensuring dental care is available in rural areas.
Many graduates of health care training programs leave school with enormous debts. One cannot blame them for wanting to locate in urban areas where they can begin earning good money quickly. WVU officials are to be commended for establishing a program that should provide some idealistic young students an incentive to go where they are needed badly.