Confusion has accompanied the decision by the West Virginia Legislature to dismantle the state’s Education and Arts Department. When the decision by the lawmakers was first announced, many believed that the state was taking retribution against the teachers in West Virginia who recently went on a multi-day strike that result in the teachers receiving a five percent pay raise.
The confusion occurred due to the fact that West Virginia has two departments with similar names. The state has a Department of Education, and it has an Education and Arts Department. The Department of Education is the department that is responsible for handling the funding and administration of K through grade 12 educational programs. This department is not being eliminated.
The Education and Arts Department is the department that administrates funding for libraries, public radio and television stations, arts and museums. The new law aims at eliminating this department and transferring the responsibility for these programs to other departments within the West Virginia state government.
Legislators in West Virginia anticipate that the measure will provide the state with significant savings through a reduction in administrative costs. They claim that no educational or arts programs themselves will lack sufficient funding.
Critics of this new legislation aren’t buying the lawmakers’ reassurances. They point to the fact that the state of West Virginia will miss out on significant funding if it eliminates the department that handles arts. Many arts funding organizations will not support programs in a state that does not have a state arts’ department.
The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk. There is as yet no word if the governor will approve the elimination.