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Wider lens necessary for effective education

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  • Transition team must act with urgency

    Transition team must act with urgency

    Friday, December 16 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-16 11:00:16 GMT

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

  • Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Friday, December 9 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-09 11:00:15 GMT

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

  • Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Friday, December 2 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-02 11:00:19 GMT

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

We say it often, but if West Virginia is going to reach its enormous potential, we will need a dynamic, robust educational system that challenges and prepares our people for the rigors of life in the 21st century. A vital part of that equation is making certain all of our state’s institutions of higher learning are empowering students. That takes time, dedication and resources. Unfortunately, as state funding continues to be reduced — something happening in both the Mountain State and across the country — schools are going to be presented with new challenges and will be forced to find creative ways to fulfill their missions. The status quo is no longer going to make the grade.

Quite simply, much about higher education has to change. Leaders at every school across West Virginia and beyond will have no choice but to enthusiastically embrace technology and to explore education beyond the classical methods. Online education is growing, but it is truly in its nascent stages and so much more can be done. We have likely only scratched the surface of what can be accomplished through this kind of experience. We walk the streets with the accumulated knowledge of mankind instantly accessible via tiny devices in our pockets. Even the most jaded, cynical educator has to be excited by the possibilities present with this kind of connectivity.

This week’s edition of The State Journal highlights the state’s largest institutions of higher education: West Virginia University and Marshall University. Both schools have established strong footholds in the world of Internet learning, but they, and all of our schools, need to push forward and not be afraid of trying bold, inventive ways to bring instructors and students together. More directly, each of the state’s four-year colleges and its many community colleges all need to be thoroughly and individually examined as relates to their allocation of state resources, the schools’ costs vs. benefits and each school’s priorities for workforce preparation.

State leaders must understand their role in this issue. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to higher education, our elected leaders and administrators need to view the situation with a wider lens. Resource allocation and directives need to be free from political ideology and driven by common sense. Guidance and direction must be done in the spirit of collaboration. Those in charge must be willing to listen to institutions and work with them to help them set a proper path. We have a great example in the relationship between WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Marshall President Stephen Kopp. The landscape is changing and that must be accounted for. We are blessed with wonderful, innovative, progressive colleges, universities and community colleges and vocational schools. We must never forget that and we must never forget the role for each to create a better West Virginia.

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