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Family Foundations of Health

The Free Press WV

The family provides a foundation for children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being. The unique and frequent interactions between children and their families can create protective factors that may promote and support health now and into adulthood. The Lancet Commission’s report on adolescent health notes that during adolescence, peers and other people in a teen’s life also influence health, but the family remains a central influence.

Family members can influence an adolescent’s health by:


1.       Promoting delayed sexual activity.

In 2012, nearly nine in ten teens said that it would be easier for teens to postpone sexual activity if they could have an honest conversation with their parents, and about 40 percent of teens cited parents as the biggest influence regarding their decisions about sex. Research also shows that when parents talk to their teens about sex, teens are more likely to delay sex, use contraception if they do have sex, and communicate more effectively with their partners. Talking about sex with adolescents can be intimidating. Family members can use conversation tools to stay calm and talk honestly. Advocates for Youth also provides a collection of guidance and resources in the Parents Sex Ed Center for parents who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.


2.       Protecting against substance use.

Teens whose parents establish clear rules and talk about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are less likely to use these substances. Parents and other caring adults should monitor parties to prevent underage drinking and protect against unhealthy relationships with alcohol in the future. Similarly, parents can establish and enforce clear driving rules to prevent teens from drunk or risky driving.

Families can encourage teens of all ages to stay drug-free by clearly communicating the consequences of drug use, talking about what they’re learning at school, and commenting on the positive aspects of the teen’s life and character. Avoiding alcohol consumption or limiting drinking also are good behaviors to model for adolescents. If you believe a teen is already drinking or using drugs, there are ways to help them stop.


3.       Preventing unhealthy relationships.

Open communication and closeness with parents can help prevent dating violence and promote healthy relationships. For example, parents and other family members who get to know their teen’s friends and romantic partners can more effectively monitor those relationships and encourage positive decision-making. In addition, family members can talk about and model healthy relationships to their teen. For instance, using conflict resolution skills can show adolescents how to set boundaries and compromise even when they feel angry or uncomfortable.

Since relationships aren’t black-and-white and exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, adults may need to evaluate the health of their own relationships. Adults can see where their relationships land on the spectrum and learn ways to improve them. If you think that you or your adolescent is in an abusive relationship or needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.


4.       Building connectedness.

Parental supervision combined with high levels of support increases family connectedness. When families are connected, teens may be less likely to become violent. Family connectedness also helps adolescents build resilience so they can withstand setbacks. Sharing a meal can promote family connectedness, stability, and healthy eating habits. To make the most of family mealtimes, unplug from phones and have make-your-own meals that get everyone involved. Other activities from ParentFurther can help families strengthen their bonds even as adolescents become more independent. Disconnection or withdrawal from social interactions, along with other warning signs, may indicate a mental health issue. In times of emotional distress or crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.


5.       Shaping lifelong habits.

Life at home can help teens establish healthy habits. Talking with teens about how to manage different aspects of their lives builds self-sufficiency and provides them with skills they will use in adulthood. Younger children and adolescents can be involved in tasks like grocery shopping and meal planning to ensure healthy food habits throughout life. Similarly, a friendly competition with family can encourage adolescents to be physically active, a habit that helps prevent chronic conditions in the future.

Families also can educate teens on good money management skills. Teach teens the five principles of money management and how to factor them into decision-making. Money as You Grow helps adults guide children as they begin earning money and making financial decisions. Financial education curriculum and other resources help educators and community leaders connect youth and families to financial services and support lifelong decision-making skills.

Addressing Public Health Crises: Suicide and Opioid Addiction are Preventable

Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play.

The Free Press WV

During National Public Health Week , April 03-09, we celebrate the progress we’ve made helping people live healthier lives and those public health professionals who have helped us make that progress. But one hallmark of public health is life expectancy, and the United States just experienced a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993. This was due in part to increases in two of the nation’s most heart-breaking and yet preventable public health issues facing us: the increasing rate of suicide and the increasing misuse of opioid drugs.

In 2015, nearly 44,200 deaths were due to suicide in the United States, or about one suicide every 12 minutes. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide from 1999 to 2015. The suicide rate has steadily climbed, resulting in a 2015 rate that is 28 percent higher than in 2000.

Suicide rates in less urban areas have been higher than those in more urban areas. During this time period, the gap in suicide rates increased between less urban and more urban areas. This gap began to widen more quickly in 2007-2008, possibly reflecting the impact and financial hardship of the recession, which hit rural areas harder.

Geographic disparities may also be associated with limited access to mental health care and greater social isolation, as well as the “opioid overdose epidemic,” according to the CDC report.

According to the CDC report: “Communities can benefit from implementing policies, programs and practices based on the best available evidence regarding suicide prevention and key risk factors.” And the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , 1.800.273.TALK (8255), supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is always available for anyone in need of help or information about suicide prevention.

Opioids include both prescription medications, such as hydrocodone, oxydone, morphine and methadone, which are approved to manage pain, as well as illicit drugs, such as heroin.

Suicide and opioid misuse and abuse risk factors can overlap, including pain, other addictions, mental disorders and disruptions in social support. Whether opioid overdose is unintentional or intentional, more than 300,000 Americans have died since 2000, including more than 33,000 deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids in 2015 alone. 

To address this crisis, President Trump recently established a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which has been tasked to make recommendations to the President for improving the federal response to the opioid crisis. The commission includes heads of key Cabinet departments, including HHS Secretary Tom Price.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health provide roadmaps for comprehensive public health approaches to suicide and substance abuse prevention. The emotional and economic impact on individuals as well as on families and communities demand a continued proactive and coordinated response.

Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play. Learn about some of the available resources for treatment options, mental health and behavioral health issues and related concerns:

Why Western Medicine is Failing to Fix Our Addiction Crisis

According to board-certified medical doctor Mylaine Riobe, MD, addiction is a physiological metabolism disorder and requires specialized treatment.

The Free Press WV

Dr. Riobe studied pre-med at Columbia, went to NY Medical College for her MD, and completed an OB-GYN residency. She then “went out into the real world,” only to find that what she’d learned wasn’t enough for many problems patients came to her for.

“Most of my patients were tired all the time, couldn’t sleep, were gaining weight, and experiencing anxiety and depression. While I could prescribe sleeping pills, anxiety meds, and antidepressants, [my patients] seemed to return with other problems or even the same problems again later.”

Thus began her quest for answers. She credited her grandmother for introducing her to natural medicines. That, plus Dr. Riobe’s interest in Buddhist principles, led her to study Chinese medicine for five years. “I also studied with mentors for two years by seeing patients with them in their offices.”

In the United States, she explained, medical doctors don’t need to formally study Chinese medicine. “They can get away with a six-month course and begin practicing. This leads to a misunderstanding of Chinese medicine because it’s simply not enough time to learn it.”

The doctor then implemented Chinese medicine into her practice “with great results” and was able to help her patients in new ways. Still not completely satisfied, she continued to seek solutions by then studying functional medicine. “That introduced me to a sophisticated method of testing called cellular-based testing.”

After her extensive education, Dr. Riobe founded the Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine in Stuart, Florida where she treats patients with her own medical recipe: a fusion of Western, Chinese and Functional medicines. Riobe is also the author of The Tao of Integrative Medicine: The Path to Prevention and The Answer to Cancer: The Ending of An Epidemic. She is also certified in office-based opioid addiction management.

“In conventional medicine,” said Riobe, “the term prevention isn’t used accurately. An annual checkup is looking for an early diagnosis of any existing diseases. If something is wrong, both the doctor and patient hope to catch it early. The goal is to prevent death, not prevent disease.”

She said, “Similarly, when an addict goes to detox, the focus is on removing the substance from the body. A ‘good’ doctor will try to make the addict more comfortable by prescribing a drug to ease withdrawal, anxiety, and depression.”

After days or weeks in rehab, the addict’s body has rid itself of the drug, and after-care programs may offer meditation, exercise, and psychiatric help. That all sounds good, right? Yes, said Riobe, but with that approach, we are failing to look at the bigger picture.

“We’re leaving the patient with the same underlying physiological causes of addiction, which is why our current methods have up to a 95% failure rate.”

She referred to a 2016 study released by the University of Beijing that focused on addiction as a physiological metabolism disorder. She is certain it all comes down to a problem with metabolism.

“Metabolism is the reactions the body uses to make its energy so it can perform its functions,” said Riobe. “As we take in foods containing proteins and fats, and breathe oxygen, they are broken down and converted into energy. If this process doesn’t take properly, we get lactic acid instead. These metabolic problems stem from nutrient deficits, hormone imbalances, and an accumulation of toxins,” she said. “Without proper evaluation and testing, it’s extremely difficult to determine the causes.”

After looking at the study, I still needed to understand what the authors—and Riobe—were getting at. In layman’s terms, lactic acid is a chemical compound that comes from blood cells and muscle. It can become problematic when a buildup occurs, which can happen as a side effect of toxin buildup from drug use or poor nutrition. Riobe explained, “The Beijing study showed that the release of lactic acid by glia cells in the brain triggers cocaine-addiction memories and fuels addiction in rodents.”

Okay, so then I had to understand what glia cells are: they are nervous system cells in your brain and spinal cord. Your brain’s neurons do the thinking while glia cells make sure the brain is working properly so the neurons can do their thing. The study found that if production of lactic acid is blocked, cravings for cocaine diminish. I’d say that’s an important discovery toward treating coke addicts, eh?

Riobe then talked about the glaring problem with our current treatment for opioid addicts. Based solely on western medicine, the patient is medicated with a “safer” version of the addictive drug, such as Suboxone.

“This satisfies the craving and drastically reduces the risk of death from drug overdose,” said Riobe. “But it leaves the underlying cause of addiction untreated, which explains why weaning addicts off of [Suboxone] is so difficult. The disease is still present, as are its underlying causes.”

The fatal flaw in this system, according to Riobe, is this focus on preventing death. “We look at the craving as the disease and mask it with prescription drugs,” she said. “We need to look for the cause of the craving.”

That’s where Riobe’s intensive studies and integration of Chinese medicine and functional medicine comes in. Her three-fold approach is to focus on preventing disease. She explained that western medicine is not equipped to look at disease from the perspective of metabolism, but traditional Chinese medicine and functional medicine are. “Their very premise is to correct ‘metabolic dysfunction,‘“ said Riobe.

Once again, I had to slow things down to understand all of this. I felt like it was going over my head. Let’s break it down in terms of treating addiction:

  • Western medicine is focused on diagnosing the disease and preventing death. A doctor looks at symptoms, makes a determination, and prescribes a solution. He/She might treat all patients with similar symptoms in the same way. Often, treatment includes pharmaceuticals. This can work in the short-term but it is only masking symptoms. The problem is that addiction is a chronic illness with underlying causes that are not just mental.
  • Chinese medicine looks at the whole person. Each patient is considered unique and the examination is based on “life force energy” or qi (pronounced chee). The doctor will look for why the balance in the body’s metabolism has been thrown off and what is causing the cravings. Treatment will be based on restoring the body’s natural balance. This focuses on long-term wellness. Riobe explained: “Chinese medicine is scientific. It is related to quantum physics as opposed to Newtonian physics like our conventional [western] and functional medicine models.”
  • Functional medicine, like Chinese medicine, does not merely mask symptoms, doesn’t rely on “one size fits all” answers, and looks to bring the body back to a healthy state. However, functional medicine shares western medicine’s problem-solving through advanced laboratory testing in order to determine why the body is malfunctioning.

Riobe’s practice combines these three strategies to wean patients off of addictive substances for a much better chance at long-lasting sobriety. She is in the process of opening an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility to implement her specialized three-fold medical model. In addition, Riobe is currently seeking grants for a study that will enroll addicted patients to prove the value in her integrative model to treat drug cravings.

“If drug dependence is treated naturally from a root cause perspective,” Riobe said, “we can see a momentum shift in the U.S. and bring this epidemic under control.”

~~  Dr. Riobe studied Chinese medicine for five years.  ~~

DHHR Launches Statewide Naloxone Distribution Project to Fight Opioid Overdose Deaths in WV

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced the first statewide naloxone distribution project aimed at preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.

“Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote that, if administered in a timely manner, can effectively reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid and opiate overdose and revive victims,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.  “This collaboration represents an essential step toward turning around West Virginia’s staggering overdose statistics.”

The state-level naloxone distribution project is a partnership of DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) and Bureau for Public Health (BPH).  It is predominantly funded through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment $1.07 million block grant managed by the BBHHF, and is being administered by the BPH as part of its statewide harm reduction efforts.  The project will be jointly overseen by the BPH and the BBHHF to focus on reduction in the number of overdose deaths.

“The partnership forged between the bureaus to move this project forward marks the first concerted, statewide effort to make this medication more widely available to all who can potentially save a life,” said Kimberly Walsh, BBHHF Deputy Commissioner.  “This initiative will significantly enhance the state’s ability to ensure that non-EMS first responders, as well as others with existing programs or those who have interest in establishing programs, have access to naloxone.”

DHHR has contracted with the West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center (WVU ICRC) to implement and evaluate the program through a census of existing naloxone programs.

The WVU ICRC will use the data collected from its recent survey to compile a priority list of programs for the naloxone distribution.  Priority is based on the organization’s risk level (calculated from number and rate of overdose deaths in the county where the program is located) and estimated number of naloxone doses needed (based on survey responses).

The WVU ICRC has acquired more than 16,000 doses of medication, which will enable the distribution of more than 8,000, two-dose naloxone rescue kits to new and existing programs across the state.

Medical Marijuana May Reduce Opioid Abuse

The Free Press WV

Medical marijuana may reduce opioid painkiller use and abuse, three separate studies suggest.

Tara Holmes studied the issue this summer for the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy. She said one of the studies that noted the clear benefits of medical marijuana was the 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research report.

“Providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly-addictive painkillers,” Holmes concluded.

Separate research found fewer overdoses, and that older patients took fewer opioid painkillers in states that have approved medical marijuana use, she said. The West Virginia Legislature discussed legalizing cannabis for medical use last year, but some expressed concern that the move could increase abuse of what has sometimes been described as a “gateway drug.“

Several neighboring states are now in the process of implementing medical marijuana laws. West Virginia’s Legislature seems likely to consider the issue again in the next session, in part because marijuana could be a source of badly-needed revenue. And according to Holmes, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant health benefit.

“The 2014 study done by JAMA suggests that statewide legalization of marijuana is linked with lower state-level opioid overdoses,” she said.

The Free Press WV


Medical Marijuana patients often take a pharmaceutical grade extraction - and defenders say that shouldn’t be confused with the joints that might be sold by a street dealer. In fact, Holmes said a third study looked at the prescription habits of Medicare Part D patients. She said even though all were over 65, they took fewer opioid painkillers when medical marijuana was available; healthier, she said, and cheaper.

“They would choose that over an opioid-based painkiller. Also, on the flip side of that, the state wouldn’t be paying for these prescription drugs, and these people wouldn’t be paying for it out-of-pocket.“

West Virginia has a high rate of both chronic pain and opioid prescriptions. The state also has more than twice the national average rate of overdose deaths.

More information on Holmes’s finding is available here.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Baby Names Parents Say They Regret Giving Their Kids

The Free Press WV

Charlotte

You would think the baby name Charlotte would be high on parents’ “love” lists, but as it stands, it’s actually the baby name parents surveyed regret the most. That’s so interesting considering how timeless and regal a name like Charlotte is. At least Prince William and Kate enjoy this baby name.


Amelia

One baby name you might be surprised to see on this list is Amelia. Sweet and serene, Amelia seems to be a popular baby name many parents surveyed regret giving their daughters—which is a shame considering how pretty it sounds.


Anne

Aww, who doesn’t have love for Anne? It’s endearing, uncomplicated, and a name bestowed on some of the most memorable authors and poets—not to mention a pretty long list of royal ladies.


Daniel

Come on, who doesn’t love the name Daniel? It gives us so many nicknames—like Dan, Danny, Danny-O—which makes this baby name too good to pass up. Sadly, this popular Hebrew name for little gents-in-training earns a spot on the list of baby names parents regret.


Jacob

If you happen to be #TeamJacob, we’re sorry to say this name made the list of baby names parents regret. Jacob is very charming but is also a pretty popular baby name that could make some parents feel like it’s not distinctive enough.


James

A certain British character—who dresses up in amazing tuxedos and drinks martinis shaken and not stirred—might make the name James sound cool, but that alone is not enough to keep this baby name off the list. (We still love you, Bond.)


Thomas

Sadly, lovable Thomas finds a place on the list of baby names parents regret giving their children. What’s interesting to note is that this popular biblical name also carries the nickname “Doubting Thomas.“ It’s pretty safe to say that moms and dads who chose this name are experiencing doubt. Talk about an omen.


Alex

Alex?! Sure, this name is a bit ordinary, but it could be a short name—a nickname even—for so many awesome baby names. There’s Alejandro, Alessandro, Alexandria, Alexis, Alexander, and a long list of other wickedly awesome baby names.


Anthony

Playfully known as “another Tony,“ Anthony finds its way onto the list of regretted baby names. Maybe if they knew Anthony is Latin for “priceless,“ that would cheer up some parents!


David

It pains us to see David made this list of regrettable baby names. Was no one else a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210? Did Brian Austin Green not give you life growing up as David Silver? Even if his character wasn’t inspiration for this baby name, David is still a pretty rocking choice.


Emily

Aww, who could ever regret such a darling baby name like Emily? It’s such a delightful choice that offers a fun play on the classic Amelia.


Frederick

Freddy. Fred. Fred Man. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears a good number of moms and dads just aren’t feeling the name Frederick anymore.


Jack

No matter how many famous Jacks we know—including Jack Nicholson, Jack Black, Jackie Chan (hey, there’s a Jack in there), and the late Jack Lemmon—the numbers don’t seem to matter. Jack is one of the baby names parents surveyed regret the most.


Jay

Who knew that a three-letter pet name would cause such disappointment? As sugary (you know, extra sweet) as the baby name Jay is, it doesn’t seem to strike a chord with new parents. In fact, some wish they chose another name for their kids.


Joseph

Little Joseph might be a cutie, but his baby name is one that parents surveyed say they regret. Maybe they know one too many Joeys? In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “These are just feelings. They’ll go away.“


Jane

Jane might be a usual name to some, but it’s such a classic. Jane Eyre. Jane Austen novels. The name Jane has given us tons of amazing literary works and inspiration to last a lifetime!


Lily

As fragrant as a floral-inspired baby name might be, some are more sweet-smelling to parents than others. Finding a spot on the list of most regrettable baby names is Lily, which might surprise some moms and dads. Perhaps parents who now dislike their choice no longer enjoy these trumpet-shaped blooms?


Louise

Are traditional baby names no longer in style? Louise was quite the popular name in the early 1900s, but has since lost demand. Now it appears to be a baby name moms and dads surveyed wish they didn’t give their daughters.


May

Mayday, mayday! It would appear parents who participated in the Mumsnet survey now wish they wouldn’t have named their little girls May. A pet name thought to unite Mary and Margaret, this name is one we think is super sweet.


Meghan

How many people do you know who have the name Meghan? It’s a well-liked baby name that so many parents love to use. Maybe this is one of the reasons why some moms and dads surveyed now wish they chose another option.


Oscar

Aww. Please tell us this isn’t true! Sadly, the baby name Oscar is a choice parents regret—which makes us a bit glum considering how adorable it is.


Ruby

As great as you might think this precious stone is, some parents feel Ruby, as a baby name, isn’t that lustrous. Who knows why this red gem made the list of most regrettable baby names. All we know is it’s here and moms and dads are second-guessing their decision.


Sally

Last but certainly not least is Sally. A precious pet name for Sarah, this baby name just doesn’t seem to inspire moms and dads surveyed on Mumsnet anymore. Who knows if this baby name will reignite cheer again.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve Program Aims to End Childhood Hunger

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Feed to Achieve (WVFTA), an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Children Nutrition, officially launched today during a special event on the Capitol lawn.

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano served as keynote speaker and addressed the importance of working together to end childhood hunger in West Virginia.

“Hunger among children has a major impact not only on health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy,” Martirano said. “Feed to Achieve will be a tremendous asset to our state. It will also help build the foundation for other states to develop and carry out similar programs for children.”

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is a nonprofit, donation-based program that aims to end childhood hunger in West Virginia by providing grants to programs that are feeding children outside of the school day such as backpack feeding programs, school-based food pantries, community-based food pantries, and church-based feeding programs.

“In West Virginia there are nearly 1 in 4 children that live in a household that does not have sufficient access to food,” said Samantha Snuffer-Reeves, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator. “Feed to Achieve’s main goal is to feed children when they’re most at risk: after school hours, holidays, weekends, snow days and during the summer months.”

The inspiration for WVFTA occurred when West Virginia Senator John Unger was visiting an elementary school in Martinsburg. He asked what students would change about their school and one boy said he would like to receive two lunches so there would be enough food left over for his parents and siblings. “That was a huge wakeup call for our department- something had to be done about childhood hunger in our state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Martirano said.

West Virginia Feed to Achieve is solely dependent on donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. All donations received directly fund grants that are distributed to eligible social service organizations statewide twice a year.

Grant applications will be received in September in preparation for winter and in April 2017 in preparation for next summer. Funds will then be awarded in November 2016 and June 2017. The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Selection Committee will review grant applications and award funding. Funding amounts will be dependent on the amount of money in the state West Virginia Feed to Achieve fund.

Since West Virginia Feed to Achieve programs are strictly donation based, interested corporate or individual donors are encouraged to visit and make donations on the West Virginia Feed to Achieve website at www.wvfeedtoachieve.com.

Rising Level Of Child Poverty “Ignored” By Candidates

The Free Press WV

Given how little attention it’s getting from candidates, children in poverty is a hidden crisis, say advocates.

According to the most recent complete numbers from Kids Count, more children in West Virginia and across the nation are growing up in poverty now than during the Great Recession.

But Bruce Lesley, president of the children’s advocacy group First Focus, says in the first 10 Democratic and Republican presidential debates, only one question out of 500 was specific to the lives children in this country now live.

“Someone will say I care about terrorism and we need to do it for our children,” he relates. “That may be true but there are huge issues facing our children directly. So where’s the big debate?“

About 20 percent of U.S. children live below the poverty line, a rate sharply higher than adults.

The number of West Virginia children in poverty rose by about 7 percent between 2007 and 2014.

Folks working on children’s issues say they have trouble drawing attention to the topic during political fights and budget battles.

Lesley says even though childhood poverty is increasing, federal spending devoted to fighting it has fallen in recent years.

“If they would engage in the conversation, I think they would find a very receptive audience among the public but because kids don’t vote, they don’t have PACs, they’re not donating to campaigns, they’re not on top of mind, and so it’s a huge problem that we face,“ Lesley says.

Although the issue doesn’t always draw a lot of attention, Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute, says it can be hugely important.

“Children growing up in poverty tend not to do as well in school, which means that then when they’re adults they may be in poverty,” she points out. “And so one reason we try to break the cycle of poverty is so we don’t have inter-generational poverty. “

Families With Kids Still Recovering From Recession

New data from the KIDS COUNT Data Book suggests that families with children have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Most economic indicators are still below prerecession levels, and the nation’s child poverty rate remains stuck at 22%.

The Free Press WV


In this year’s ranking of states on the economic well-being of kids, Wyoming moved into the top spot, and Louisiana dropped to last.

Heroin, Painkiller Overdose Antidote Getting Easier To Buy

The Free Press WV

It is becoming easier for friends and family of heroin users or patients taking strong painkillers to buy an antidote that can reverse the effect of an overdose, as policymakers look for ways to fight a growing epidemic.

Naloxone, which is known by the brand-name Narcan, can quickly revive someone who has stopped breathing after overdosing on so-called opioids, highly addictive drugs that include prescription painkillers like Vicodin as well as illegal narcotics like heroin. In the past, naloxone has been available mostly through clinics, hospitals or first responders like paramedics.

Now, nearly every state has passed laws that allow people to buy naloxone without requiring a prescription from their doctor, and drugstores and other retailers around the country are making it easier to buy the drug.

“This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,“ said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target and Wal-Mart have joined independent drugstores in either relaxing access to naloxone through their pharmacies in dozens of states, or are making plans to do so. The grocer Kroger is also selling it without requiring a prescription in a few states.

Deaths linked to opioids soared to more than 28,000 in 2014, the highest number on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 78 American die every day from an opioid overdose.

Autopsy results released Thursday show that the musician Prince died in April from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Prince, 57, died less than a week after his plane made an emergency stop for medical treatment as he was returning from an Atlanta concert, where first responders gave him a shot of naxalone.

Naloxone can restore a person’s breathing after it is injected or sprayed in the nostrils, bringing overdose victims back from near-death inside a few minutes.

Increased access to it through drugstores and other retailers comes with some limitations. The drug can cost around $80 per dose or more, which might make it unaffordable for someone with little disposable income and no insurance coverage. Customers also have to ask a pharmacist for it.

“You can’t treat it like an over-the-counter decongestant,“ said John Beckner, a pharmacist with the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group for independent pharmacies. “It’s a powerful drug product that’s going to require some instruction on how to use it.“

Beckner said pharmacists can teach the average customer how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer the drug and about what side effects to expect.

Only five states — Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming — have yet to pass a law improving naloxone access, according to The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit that helps government agencies.

Legislatures in two of those states, Hawaii and Missouri, have passed bills that await governor signatures, and Montana regulators have worked out an agreement with CVS to allow for wider access at its stores.

Opponents of this push, like Maine Gov. Paul LePage, have noted that naloxone doesn’t treat addiction and have said it discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do overdose.

Waller doesn’t buy that argument. He said research shows that greater access to naloxone doesn’t draw people to illegal drug use or foster an addiction. He said naloxone is a drug that simply keeps someone from dying from their disease. He compared it to an EpiPen, which is used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions.

“If you have an EpiPen, it’s not going to make you go out and seek out your allergy more often,“ he said.

CommunityConcerns™: Gilmer County’s Summer Energy Express Program

WVDOE Withholds Summer Feeding and Reading Program
From Gilmer County’s Disadvantaged Children

The Free Press WV

Citizens are outraged about the failure of the WVDOE to ensure that our disadvantaged children will be fed and given the opportunity to improve their reading skills during the summer. In previous years the County participated in the Energy Express’ program. The highly successful program is administered by WVU’s extension service. Its purpose is to feed disadvantaged children and to improve their reading skills.

Everyone in Gilmer County knows that some of our children are vulnerable because of poor nutrition. In information related to Energy Express’ program it is stated “When the school bell rings for the final time each June it signals the beginning of summer months. But, for many West Virginia children, it also signals the end of the security of having two meals served to them each weekday.” There is no acceptable excuse for failing to feed the County’s hungry children when Energy Express is available to them.

Reading is something else.  Although the State is prone to keep the information secret from citizens, 50% or more of our children are not proficient in reading.  Reading is the gateway to success in high school and college, learning a trade in our high tech world, and being prepared for life in general. If a child lags in reading at an early age chances for escaping poverty are glum. Without access to Energy Express’ summer program for which reading improvement, in addition to a nutrition program, is emphasized the County’s disadvantaged children have become innocent victims.

The Free Press WV

What caused cancellation of Energy Express’ program in the County? It is understood that the State’s excuse was that a facility for the program was unavailable this year. Who in their right mind believes the truthfulness of that claim? Some checking exposed the State’s flimsy position that because deteriorated steps at the high school will be repaired when the program would have been offered, that facility could not be used for Energy Express. That was insulting nonsense because children could have entered back and side doors to avoid need to use the front steps. Besides, there would have been space at other facilities owned by the County’s school system, something could have been worked out at the recreation center or the College, or the I. L. Morris family, known for its long history of generous caring for the County’s children, would have prevented the disaster.

The reprehensible failure to feed and to help enhance reading skills of Gilmer County’s disadvantaged children is another example of broken State government. In particular it represents a shameful failure of Dr. Martirano’s WVDOE and Mr. Green’s WVBOE to provide effective oversight for how the County’s school system has functioned during intervention. The State’s administrative failure occurred because of its dictatorial elimination of all checks and balances by the County’s elected school board.

Incompetence, waste, and mismanagement from five years of the WVBOE’s intervention are horrible enough, but abuse of the County’s disadvantaged children by eliminating their access to Energy Express demonstrates a much higher degree of broken State government.

What can be done to deal with this latest atrocity? The answer is that citizens must begin to speak out to officials they elect to send to Charleston. If citizens fail to speak out nothing will be done to help our disadvantaged children and they will continue to suffer because of Gilmer County’s enabling complacency.

The Free Press WV

Taking Action to Keep Our Kids Tobacco-Free

Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., taking almost half a million lives every year. Every death caused by tobacco is preventable. Progress has been made but new threats to our nation’s health have emerged, so we’re taking the next logical step to protect our kids from the dangers of tobacco.

In 2009, a bipartisan Congressional act entrusted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products in order to protect public health. Last week, we finalized a rule that extends FDA authority to regulate ALL tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookah, and cigars. Under federal law, retailers will no longer be able to sell e-cigarettes, cigars, or other covered tobacco products to anyone under age 18 and all tobacco sales to those 26 and under will require a photo ID. Going forward, the FDA will be able to review and regulate new tobacco products before they hit store shelves.

Watch Secretary Burwell talk about this historic step that will help us improve public health and protect future generations from the dangers of tobacco.

Report: Bullying Is A Serious Public Health Problem

The Free Press WV

Zero-tolerance policies are ineffective in combating bullying, an independent government advisory group says in urging schools to take a more preventative approach that includes teaching tolerance to address this “serious public health problem.“

In a report released Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said bullying should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids. “Its prevalence perpetuates its normalization. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood,“ the report said.

Schools, the researchers concluded, should end zero-tolerance policies that automatically suspend students for bullying.

“There’s no evidence that they are impactful in a positive way,“ said Catherine Bradshaw, a professor and associate dean at the University of Virginia, and part of the committee that wrote the report. “They can actually do more harm than good and in fact don’t provide the skill training or replacement behaviors for youth that are suspended or expelled.“

The report also said zero-tolerance policies may lead to an underreporting of bullying because suspensions are perceived as too punitive.

Frederick Rivara, chairman of the committee and a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Washington, cautioned that bullying has lasting negative consequences and cannot be ignored. “While there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice,“ he said.

Programs that teach children how to get along with one another and what to do if they see kids who are being bullied, are more effective, Rivara said. Parents, too, can do their part, he said, by encouraging children to tell them if they’re being bullied, reporting it to the school or teacher and making sure their schools have effective anti-bullying programs in place.

Another committee member, Sandra Graham, a professor at UCLA, said schools need to be more proactive in teaching tolerance. “We need to be able to learn to live and accept and get along with people who are different from us,“ she said.

“Bullies are often very popular ... there are a lot of kids who bully to maintain their popularity and social status, so schools need to be addressing that,“ Graham added.

Bullying behavior is seen as early as preschool and peaks during the middle school years, the researchers said. The problem has morphed from the traditional bully-in-the-schoolyard scenario to newer forms of electronic aggression, such as cyberbullying on social media sites.

The report said both bullies and their victims can suffer short and long-term consequences, including poor grades, anxiety and depression.

A government report this month on school crime from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department suggested bullying is down sharply from more than a decade ago. It found the percentage of public schools reporting bullying at least once a week decreased from 29 percent in 1999-2000, to 16 percent in 2013-14.

The National Academies was more cautious about trying to gauge the extent to which bullying is a problem across the country. In its report, it said bullying likely affects between 18 percent and 31 percent of young people. It had lower estimates for cyberbullying victims, saying it ranged from about seven to 15 percent of youngsters.

The committee also looked at the relationship between bullying and school shootings, but concluded that the data are unclear on the role of bullying as a factor or cause in the shootings. It also found no causal link between being bullied and suicide.

The High Costs of Kids Having Kids

Teen pregnancy rates are falling to historic lows in the United States, yet they remain stubbornly high in West Virginia.

New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that from 2006 to 2014, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 has dropped 41 percent, with an average of 24 per 1,000 teens giving birth now compared with 41 per 1,000 just a decade ago.

The Guttmacher Institute’s Kathryn Kost, attributes the steady downward trend to teens becoming smarter about how to prevent pregnancy. “Sexual activity has remained constant among this age group, but birth and abortion rates have both decreased dramatically,” she said earlier this month after similar findings to the CDC’s. “The available evidence suggests that increased contraceptive use is the primary driver of this decline.”

The Free Press WV

The teen birth rate has also fallen in West Virginia during that period but only by 15 percent, and it remains one of the highest in the nation. The CDC reports that 38 of every 1,000 teenage girls gave birth in 2014, ranking West Virginia 45th, behind only Texas (39), Mississippi (40.3), New Mexico (40.5), Oklahoma (40.7) and Arkansas (41.5).

In a dozen West Virginia counties the teen birth rate ranks with the highest in the country, at 48 or more births per 1,000 girls.

CDC Director Tom Frieden is encouraged by the national numbers. “The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences,” Frieden said, “but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies.”

And that remains a problem in West Virginia because of the substantial impact of teen pregnancy, which is unintended nearly 90 percent of the time, on the mother, the child and society. According to the CDC, teen pregnancy and birth “are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only half of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age.”

Additionally, the children born to teenage mothers “are more likely to have lower school achievement and to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner of the West Virginia DHHR’s Bureau of Public Health and State Health Officer  says it’s critical that “proper education is being provided to teens of child bearing age so that they don’t suffer from the same health, economic and social consequences” as others who have babies before they are ready.

Parents teach their children (hopefully) to delay pregnancies until they are emotionally and economically prepared, but sexual drive is powerful and adolescents are not always equipped to make the best decisions.  However, the research shows providing teens with accurate information and making birth control available works.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

Pass the Buck: Pregnancy Care Providers Want WV to Up Tobacco Tax

The Free Press WV

CHARLESTON, WV - West Virginia pregnancy-care providers want lawmakers to “pass the buck” by raising the state cigarette tax by $1 a pack.

With a big hole in the state budget, the $150 million more a year in tobacco revenue looks appealing. But doctors here also hope to reduce the rate of smoking by pregnant women here, which now is the highest in the country.

Amy Tolliver, director of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership, said the sticker shock from a big tax hike would help, and as a result reduce problems such as low birth-weight babies.

“Smoking in pregnancy drives our pre-term birth rate, it causes an impact in the fetal brain development, and it’s costing us as a state,“ she said.

Critics oppose raising any taxes, and have argued that this one would fall hardest on the poor. Supporters have said the state spends more than $1 billion a year on smoking-related health-care costs, but only brings in 17 percent of that through tobacco taxes.

According to projections from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the tax hike would mean 2,700 fewer West Virginia pregnancies affected by smoking over five years, resulting in $6.5 million in health-care savings. Moreover, Tolliver said those premature and low birth-weight babies have lifelong health problems. From day one, they’re more likely to end up in intensive care, which is expensive.

“If we could impact that and reduce the number of pre-term births and those babies that need additional high-level care in our neonatal intensive care units,“ she said, “we could impact the Medicaid budget.“

Critics of the tax hike have also pointed out that smokers will resent it. However, Tolliver said most smokers want to quit long before they do, and research has proved that higher tobacco prices help them quit. She said that’s especially true for pregnant women.

“Women are driven to try to quit smoking. They want to do the best thing for their baby,“ she said. “Pregnancy is a time when we can have the biggest impact on helping those women quit.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

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Readers' Recent Comments

During intervention the State had dictatorial control of our school system to include all decisions related to the GCES.

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

An investigation is needed to determine who was responsible for the bad decision, and what role the no-bid architectural firm had in designing and constructing the school.

Something major happened to cause the GCES to be built too small. Was something dropped at the expense of adequate class room space as a result of having to spend extra money because a poor site was selected?

Minimally, gross incompetency on the State’s part is the explanation for the disaster foisted onto the County.

A question pertains to the new gym. Lots of effort was taken by the State to try to convince the public that a competition gym instead of a regular gym was needed.

Did the competition gym cost extra money at the expense of needed classroom space? If the answer is affirmative who was responsible for deciding on the more expensive gym?

What about the enormous pit at the GCES? Was money spent on it at the expense of classrooms because something was wrong with the school’s site that was selected by the State?

Nothing similar to the pit has been seen at other sites where new WV schools were built.

Why has there been a failure for a thorough investigation to have occurred to expose the facts?

The obvious explanation is that powerful elitists in control do not want tracks leading to them, and they have veto power over a meaningful investigation including one done by a leading newspaper.

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Pat McGroyne is spot on.
High speed internet is simply another failure of WV state government.

If the elected in our state, were doing the job expected by voters….we should have very few problems or issues?

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Muddling has another distinct symptom. It is the tendency for administrators in control to emphasize processes and procedures while avoiding disclosure of progress, or the lack thereof, in achieving learning results.

The purpose is another way to avoid personal accountability for school system failures.

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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West Virginia is number one!
Our politicians are the best that can be had.
They are also the lobbyers dream come true.
No one—-can out-muddle our elected reps !

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Suggestion after reading strategic plans for the GCHS and the GCES.

How about the school board requiring that for each school an informative executive summary be written to include——where each school stands on reading, math, and science proficiency, what the term proficiency means to eliminate the confusion, student proficiency goals for the two school, target time to expect goals to be achieved, and a statement to commit to keeping the public informed of progress in achieving the goals at designated intervals (e.g. quarterly) during a school year.

Omit confusing abbreviations and technical terms understood only by a select few in the education field, and written for comprehension by reasonable persons.

Leave it up to the County’s professional educators to determine how to get the job done with continual laser-like focus on getting results.

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Muddling infects federal, state, and local government entities where personal accountability for top officials to get measurable results rarely exists.

Muddling practitioners are famous for passing off information unrelated to measurable proof that effective problem-solving has occurred. A common example is emphasizing how much public money is being spent to attempt to convince tax payers that magnitudes of expenditures are always directly correlated to levels of problem-solving successes.

Muddling by an organization is characterized by the existence of thick planning documents replete with vagueness and lack of clarity, undefined technical terms, and mysterious acronyms.

Muddling thrives on intentional ambiguity and confusion designed to protect muddlers and their organizations.

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Gilmer County is not the only place in the USA that has been faced with its students failing to meet proficiency standards for science, reading, and math.

The difference here is that evidence is lacking to conclusively demonstrate that Gilmer County’s officials in control have exerted proper efforts to profit form powerful lessons learned elsewhere to use that knowledge to help solve learning deficiencies in our schools.

In fact, a convincing argument could be made that the approach in the County has been the one professional planners designate as muddling through.

Classic symptoms of muddling through include failure to thoroughly analyze categories of causes contributing to problems followed up by using the information to develop a comprehensive plan to do the most good in getting better results by treating key causes instead of symptoms.

Muddling typically involves officials assigning blame for lack of progress to outside forces e.g., the “culture”, the State did it to us, and poverty. Haven’t we heard plenty of that?

Muddling must be eliminated if we want progress in solving non-performance problems within the County’s school system. Does anyone disagree?

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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It is unclear after reading school board meeting minutes what progress if any is being made by GCHS and GCES principals in improving student proficiency in reading, math and science.

Why not allocate a few sentences in the minutes to summarize what the two principals reported to the school board?

All it would take to get the critical information out to citizens would be for the new school board to act on this.

Does anyone have a problem with the suggested change to keep Gilmer’s bill paying public informed?

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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“High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).“

I disagree with much of what Mr.Boggs believes.  That said, high-speed broadband is the single most important step the State of WV could take to improve the business climate and provide more opportunities for its citizens.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Conversation at local eatery.
Shortly after election.
Individuals were educators.

‘You think we have school problems now, wait until these new folks take the steering wheel’.

‘Students, parents, staff are all going to be in the soup’.

Sounds as if Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving vacation-deer season times have all taken a big hit.  If that is true, the union teachers need to come together, stand their ground, along with parents, and hold this new board accountable.

Have a local strike if need be.
Request resignations.
Vote of no confidence.

Schools employees can win.
You have done it before.
Just stick together.

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Scholarship must be the most important focus in Gilmer County’s schools.

Brought up the ZOOMWV Data Dashboard site to review the most recent State achievement test results for GCHS’s 11th grade.

Folks, Gilmer is in serious trouble. Proficiency for math=24%, reading=41%, and science=24%.

On an A through F grading scales the GCHS gets an F for all three subject areas.

What does the new school board have to show for inroads it has made since last July to make critically needed proficiency improvements at the HS? Citizens deserve answers to the question.

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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A thorough accounting for where all the public money went could be easily achieved by a competent accountant.

Isn’t there a special account at the County’s school board office for expenditures related to all bills paid and who got the money?

Following the money trail always gets results along with verification of means, motives, and access.

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If central office financial records for all public money paid out for everything from site planning, site studies and development, and everything else to get to completion of the GCES and the LES—- what is the reason?

It is known that money was spent on the Arbuckle site and Cedar Creek, and public money was paid out for the LES too.

Were County records for the spending purged and if that happened who ordered the action? The records are either in the County’s central office or they aren’t.

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Hasn’t the time come to finally start naming names and making people accountable?

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

For 3 or 4 months now we keep hearing about the millions of dollars of tax revenue collected.

Millions and millions above ‘estimates’.  Were those ‘estimates’ honest, or fudged to begin with, so as to request higher tax rates?

Well, Justice and the Legislature now have our dollars, what will become of this windfall? Will we see tax rates lowered?  Doubt full, but we should.

Likely this windfall, created by “over-taxation”, will simply create a “party atmosphere” of legislative spending. Watch the Charleston ‘gangsters’ get their wish lists ready this coming session.

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Yes.  The blame Does seem to fall to ‘local’ people. In small places like Gilmer County, it’s just a poker game, boys, and the deep pockets win.  Money speaks volumes where ‘officials’ stay silent.  Go ask for the records, see what they’ve got.

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Teachers and staff knew from the beginning that the GCES was going to be too small. They were ordered by the State to keep quiet about the shortfall and other serious concerns too.

A sixth grader could understood how many rooms were needed by dividing total student numbers to attend the school by how many students should be in a classroom.

Under sizing was the State’s fault and it cannot be rationalized any other way including to assign the blame to local people. Same applies to the over sized LCES.

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There will never be a full, public accounting of the gross mishandling of tax dollars during WVDOE intervention.
Too many local jobs and too many embarrassments of both elected and appointed bureaucrats.
These types cover dirt for each other.

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

One school built short 4 classrooms and another built with 5 too many.  Can it get more stupid than that?
Mr. Degree and Ms. Common Sense seldom travel together.

By Full accounting will never be revealed. Never. on 11.18.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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GCBOE when the two principals give reports at board meeting could the gist of what they said be summarized in minutes to keep the County informed?

It was a welcomed development by the Board to require principals to give reports particularly if there are required updates on progress designed to improve student learning for reading, math, and other subjects.

We still have not been informed about the status of science proficiency at the GCHS based on the latest testing. Why has the State failed to release the data? Were results too dismal?

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If it is going to cost extra money to eliminate over crowding at the GCES the financial information referenced by Do It Ourselves should be presented to Charleston and the press too.

That would help frame a solid case that crowding problems were not caused by Gilmer County because all decisions related to facilities were dictated by officials over whom the County had no oversight authority during the State’s intervention.

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is assumed that all records for spending to include money paid out for the LCES, dropped Arbuckle site, dropped Cedar Creek site, and all bills for the GCES are in the Gilmer Schools central office.

The new GCBOE has authority to get to the truth by demanding a thorough accounting for all the spending.

Afterwards the financial officer in the central office could easily access existing computerized records and to use the information for a report to the GCBOE and the public.

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Notice that most of the ‘officials’ in Gilmer County also hold regular day jobs - sometimes working on more than one paying ‘job’ at a time in the same office space. This common practice is concerning for many reasons, and it needs to be talked about when so many go without.

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There are two views in the County related to the under built GCES. Although the State built the school with inadequate classrooms one group believes that we should move on to let go of the past.

Isn’t this a form of advocacy for a coverup to prevent accountability for the State’s incompetence and mismanagement?

The other group believes that there should be a full accounting for all public money spent up to the time the GCES was completed to include disclosure of recipients of the public money. 

The accounting should be done for all public money spent at the LCES, the Arbuckle site, Cedar Creek, and finally the GCES.

Reasons for the under built GCES should be fully disclosed too. When the State was in control this information was kept secret from the public with loud claims that there was adequate space at the GCES.

Now it is known that there is inadequate space at the GCES and the problem is left to Gilmer County to fix. Only in WV!

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Unprofessional issues,rude commentsand rolling eyes at the high school has become an issue. Being on cell phone talking to boyfriends,when parents etc.going into the office. Since the teachers were ask not to be on them while students in the classroom. The one in the office should not be allowed to talk personal to her boyfriend, or whoever. Also, I hope this is corrected, the personal days, etc that the board provides to staff shouldn’t be allowed to use to work or operate a second job. Let’s get the priorities straight.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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GULMER COUNTY BOE. It is time for me to let you know some issues that is going on at the High school.  I’m hoping this will be addressed at the next board meeting. 1. It should not matter if an employee has a second job or run a business. The priority job is for the board. One should not be allowed to use any time from the board to run your business. There is going on
If they want to run your business than go but not on the boards time. I would like for all employees be treated the equal. They should not be allowed to use the time the board gives them for other jobs.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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While at it there should be an investigation of why the LES was build with too many classrooms and the GCES was built with too few. At the very least what happened is a WV horror story example of the State’s waste and mismanagement.

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is obvious that the GCES has a major space problem.

What options for dealing with the State’s mismanagement to cause the serious blunder are being considered by the Board of Education?

Could the original architectural design for the dropped Cedar Creek site be compared to what resulted at the GCES to accurately determine the extent of classroom space alterations?

If the architectural design at the GCES is different than the original plan for Cedar Creek the next step should be to determine reasons for the changes and where the money originally planned for needed classrooms went.

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It’s long been known that Justice doesn’t happen in Gilmer County “because it all comes down to money”. And for those in charge of handling it and making decisions, it comes down to being competent to do the job,  keep accurate books and accounts and I’m sorry to say, that is seriously lacking in Gilmer County.

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What is GSC’s BOG’s plan for getting money for the next payment on the $38,000,000 bond loan the Gilmer County Commission approved?

Will the State pay or will the money come from private donations?

Money will have to come from somewhere to avoid a default.

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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So sorry to hear of Kendall’s passing. I have fond memories of him at Uncle Paul’s store and the family reunions. I’m sure he will be missed greatly by those closest to him.
Please accept condolences from me and my family.

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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GSC’s present plight is no secret and its future existence is in question.

Instead of expressing attitudes that GSC is being picked on could the Blue Ribbon Commission reveal why the College “tested out” as it did to fail to get more State money?

Was the “grading system” based on student enrollment trends, retention, time taken to get a degree, academic reputation, inept governance and administration, and other factors to block more funding? Informative specifics were not disclosed.

Teachers know that concerned students who want to do better always seek advice on what needs to be done to get better grades.

Similar to concerned students GSC’s supporters should be informed of what needs to be done to position the College for improved chances for survival to include eligibility for more State funding.

Saying that GSC is being picked on does nothing to help solve its nagging problems.

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Well thank you, Details Please,  for asking!  So many problems in Gilmer and education is just one.  Look at the town, take a good look around.  Remember who runs unopposed at election time.  Vote.  Make a difference.  Hold authority figures responsible.  Allow videos, minutes and more to be shared on GFP again, for transparency.  Know your neighbors, help a friend.  Be good to each other. Amen.

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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I will truly miss my Uncle Stephen.  Telling me so much information about from gardening to canning. Just to listening to him talk with such passion for everything that he does… he had a sense of humor that always warms my heart.. listening to him play the banjo sometimes even when he didn’t feel good. he is always willing to share his recipes and his ways of doing things… his solar information he was always studying something ... I’m remember one time we asked him where he got his blackberries when it wasn’t Blackberry season and he go there’s a store down the road it’s called Walmart they have everything… He was so funny.  I love you.. xoxo.

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Sorry for your loss. He sure did look like his father.

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Reader 7, please give details for your suggested solutions to the County’s concerns you addressed.

The information would be helpful for consideration by school system administrators and the general public.

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is speculation that the plan is for GSC to convert to an education center for low risk federal inmates. Is this something the County and central WV needs?

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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Dr. Pellett’s commentary in the 10/26/2018 issue of the Gazette includes a statement that GSC is responsible for injecting $28,000,000 into the local economy.

If GSC were to close loss of the money would cause the County to have more severe poverty than it has now.

The pressing challenge is for GSC’s administrators including its Board of Governors to exercise effective leadership to prevent closure.

Why can’t GSC take action on the long standing suggestion for it to be an innovator by establishing a five year teacher education program to enable students to earn a masters degree by graduation time?

Something must be done in WV to deal with the 700 positions for which certified teachers including those for math, science and special education are not in the classrooms.

Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors why is a new teacher education program at the College not a viable option? Nothing else seems to be working.

The need exists, a similar program of excellence does not exist anywhere in the State, and GSC’s status would be elevated by having a masters degree program.

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Paine: Plan to improve math scores to focus on algebra where a third of teachers aren’t certified'.

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GSC could make a valuable contribution to WV by doing a study to report on how grade and elementary schools with excellent results in math and reading did it.

Then, other schools could use the information as guidance instead of going it alone to reinvent the wheel.

With the Ed.D. expertise at GSC it would be a natural to take on the assignment. Dr. Pellett, would you back the initiative?

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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There is reference to signing an agreement with the State for math4life for all WV school districts. What has Gilmer County agreed to do to fix our problems?

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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This important news has potential for making significant progress in improving math and reading outcomes in WV.

It hinges on how quickly advantage can be taken from lessons learned in schools that excelled.

The WVBE could do an analysis of reasons for excelling and to quickly provide guidance information to other schools.

That is the way the private sector approaches problem-solving because chronic failures have consequences and the unfit are weeded out.

Dr. O’Cull could help if the WVBE is not responsive. There could be panels of individuals from excelling schools to make presentations at WV School Board Association meetings to explain what their schools did to make the achievements.

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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A characteristic of a good strategic plan is to simplify language to enable a clear understanding of all its details.

Regarding the comment about abbreviations, a simple fix for them and terms (e.g. lexile) would be to insert an asterisk or a footnote symbol the first time one of them is used to refer readers to a section at the end of the documents where the entries are defined.

This comment is not intended to be a criticism. All specialty fields have a language of their own including the teaching profession.

Suggested clarity improvements in the plans would not be time consuming for principals at the County’s two schools.

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Looked at the strategic plan for the GCES. It is a major achievement for the new GCBE to provide the information to the public.

Suggestion. Could the GCBOE post a meaning of all abbreviations in the plan? Doing that would make it far easier for readers to understand details in the plan.

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Thanks Mrs. Lowther and the BOE for providing meeting minutes for the public to read.

Those of us who voted for the levy would appreciate receiving specific information for what is being done at the grade school and the high school to make needed improvements for college and career readiness.

Could a current overview and updates throughout the school year be provided to the public?

Why not put the details on websites of the two schools to give the principals a chance to shine?

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Correct.  I do not wish to engage in back and forth useless ‘banter’ with big words and no results.  What I AM interested in is Gilmer County, in all it’s ways.  Education, Food, Law and Transparency.  Fancy words are often used to hide, divide, and distract..  Plain words speaking truth for the safety and well being of the people is what I’m looking for..  Gilmer is suffering… I want it to stop. I want to see the citizens healthy, educated and strong. I want to see more jobs instead of food banks.  I want Committee meetings for all to see. I want the law to do what it should, when it should.  Plain english would work fine.  Thanks for asking.

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Lol 7, you do not wish to engage in a pedantic colloquy?

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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All nice but a small request? Can we simplify some of the language?  Don’t mean to be rude, but fancy works aren’t needed for the Truth.

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Stop living the delusion the state will fix education.
They have caused the problem.
Remember, for them, job one IS job protection.

Rare in history, that the cause of a problem, has come forth with a solution to what they have caused. They keep resetting testing standards so as not have any ‘yardstick’ they can be measured against.  Apparently people just don’t get it?  And the WVBOE is so happy about that.

By it-ain't-a-gonna-happen. period. on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is a continuum for sophistication regarding what is done with data.

Collecting and compiling it is at the low end of sophistication.

Synthesis is at the high end.

This means using results and other information to make specific recommendations for making improvements.

The State took its typical easy way out by failing to go beyond the data compilation stage.

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The comment about need to find out what was done at high performance schools to determine what we could do in Gilmer County to get the same results merits a comment.

The comment flags what is wrong with the State BOE in failing to provide effective leadership.

Does anyone recall a single instance, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on amassing data, when the State BOE did anything to effectively address lessons learned at high performance schools for application at other schools?

Of course not! It is the easy way out for those in high income brackets in Charleston to collect data instead of using it to the maximum to take full advantage of lessons learned.

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Harry, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I’m also sorry that I never got to know her because if she was anything like you, I’m sure she was pretty special.  Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.  May God’s love be with you my friend.

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Judith “Judy” Carolyn Buckley Rich'.

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What is the BOE’s proficiency goal for English and mathematics and what is the time frame for achieving the goal? That is news citizens want.

Then too, how can citizens at large get involved to honor and to encourage students who improve, and what of a similar nature could be done to give special recognition to outstanding teachers who contribute to improved learning for English and math?

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The BOE and Mrs Lowther deserve high praise for disclosing proficiency information to the public.

It is the first time since 2011 anything like this has happened.

We still do not know about results for science, and it is understood that Charleston is still “working” on it.

Now we know our serious shortcomings in math and English and there is new hope for burrowing out of the mess with everyone in Gilmer working together.

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Well, dear citizen… sometimes the local ‘law’ gets it wrong.  #truth #JusticeForGilmer

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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Soooo…...why do we never see a big drug bust in Gilmer?
With the college and others, there are plenty sources.
Seems strange?

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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If you access http://www.mywvschool.com it is evident that some schools outpace others for math and English.

For examples look at data for Lizemore Elementary in Clay County, Alum Creek Elementary in Kanawha County, Rock Branch Elementary in Putnam county, and Greenmont Elementary in Wood County.

Gilmer BOE why not assign someone to evaluate what is being done at those school and others to make them State standouts and to apply lessons learned to our elementary schools?

The same applies to learning from others regarding how to get high marks at GCHS.

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

From the entry: 'WV and Area Counties Balanced Scorecard for School Year 2017-2018'.

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I have not read anyone blaming our teachers.  Quite the contrary.
There have been some well thought out comments submitted too.
I am old enough to remember when we had few issues about quality education.

Forget Charleston? Better not.
Believe we are still in their “probation” period.
You better check out just what that means.

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Why not go for it on our own and use the tried and widely accepted Iowa Test of Basic Skills to evaluate learning proficiency of our children?

It is the longest running test in America and it goes back to 1936.

One outcome of using the test is that each grade would be evaluated and compared to performances to schools in other parts of America.

We would probably have to go through hoop jumps of the State’s everchanging testing too.

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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To compound complexity of the issue, Gilmer is different from McDowell and both are different than Monongahela.

The implication is that getting out of the crisis must be county-specific and there is no one size that will fit all of WV’s 55 school systems.

Each county is on its own and ones with the best planning, local boards of education, and administrators will shine. Forget about Charleston!

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Similar to most complex problems there are several categories contributing to WV’s dismal failure in improving education results in our grade and high schools.

Information in referred journal is beginning to show up. Some of the categories include curriculum issues in high schools, block scheduling failures in high schools, inordinate emphasis on sports at the expense of academics, inadequate prep of grade schoolers to ensure that they get firm foundations in math and English Language Arts, failure to instill need for life long learning at early ages, failure for school systems to fund continuing education of teachers to prepare them for newly emerged practices for enhanced student learning, cultural impediments including failure of some families to encourage children and to give them extra learning help at home, dysfunctional families for children to grow up in caused by drug and alcohol abuse and chronic unemployment, grade inflation characterized by too many As and Bs and attitudes that nobody fails so pass them along, failure of school boards to hire the best qualified superintendents and teachers because of local emphasis on favoring “home grow” individuals, failure of school boards to define performance expectations for superintendents to make effective accountability impossible, constantly changing types of State mandated testing to cause chaos and morale problems, poor compensation of teachers necessary to attract and keep the best and the brightest, etc.

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

One of the weakest links contributing to a lack of progress in improving WV schools is that instead of analyzing the full spectrum of contributing problems and focusing on ones with the biggest payoff potential, the trend in Charleston is to constantly apply band aid approaches with hopes that “cures” will be stumbled on accidentally.

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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The problem with preK-12 education in WV is that a holistic and and technically defensible evaluation of contributing factors to cause WV’s problems and how to deal with them has not occurred.

Instead, under direction of clueless politicians ineffective muddling prevails while selling what is done at a particular time as the definitive solution.

How many times have we witnessed muddling over the past 20-30 Years? It still goes on in Charleston.

Why not obtain a grant to have qualified experts analyze success stories around the Nation and use findings to craft a demonstration project in Gilmer County to improve our school system?

Regardless of what we do there must be open minds in seeking out what to do in homes, schools,  teacher education programs in our institutions of higher learning, continuing education for classroom teachers, and to involve various factions in our community to achieve acceptable results. Everyone must band together as a unified team to make it work.

One trap is over emphasis of sports. If the same magnitude of attention and importance were to be focused on solving preK-12 education problems in WV, great strides could be made to benefit deserving children.

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Ron. I too know this pain of losing a beloved father. Both of these men were taken way too soon. Praying maybe Mr.Ron, my Dad, and all the former Westinghouse employees in heaven are getting together. Love and prayers from, Adrienne and family.

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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West Virginia’s educational failures is NOT because of classroom teachers.

It IS because of the WV Board of Education’s failures of the past 20-30 years.

That 9 member, lopsided governor board is a crime against children and education in WV as a whole.

It needs 3 teachers, 3 general public parent members, and 3 governor appointees.

Until that governors click gang is broken up, you simply see repeats of the past.  NO progress in education.

It will take the legislature to fix it, but they are too busy with the legislature created court system failure, while trying to line pockets with gas and oil money.

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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What is the plausible rationale for Gilmer not disclosing detailed facts similar to what Superintendent Hosaflook did?

Wood County reported 11,176 students in its 27 schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

In comparison Gilmer had 734 reported students in our two schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

Wood County had 15 times more students than Gilmer and it is reasonable to assume that it was 15 times more demanding to administer with its 27 schools.

If Wood County could get detailed facts out to the public with its significantly higher work load what keeps tiny Gilmer from doing the same?

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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We have not had a responsible, functioning, WVBE for 20 years.
Not one that would accept any responsibility.

They just keep changing ‘score keeping’ so there can be no accurate tracking of student progress.

State ranks 48th or 49th on educational outcomes. Still.
Colleges still have to give remedial classes.

The ONLY thing that changes are the names of the governor appointed players.
And just look at the ‘cost-per-pupil’ spending!
We are about the highest in the nation.

West Virginia State Board of Education = complete failure.  Nothing less.

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released for Public Schools in West Virginia'.

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Never could figure out why working people, retirees, volunteers are picking up trash left by adults?

Not when we have the numbers of bored prisoners we have locked up doing nothing??

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Adopt-A-Highway Fall Statewide Cleanup Set for September 29'.

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Go to http://www.mywvschool.org to access more official State information about Gilmer’s schools. There are serious red flags in need of immediate corrective attention.

If you access Lewis County schools on the same web site you can review info for LES. Look at the red flags there. Worse than GES.

Instead of using the info to criticize it can be useful in seeking out opportunities for making immediate improvements.

For those who take apologetic stands that Gilmer is doing as well as some other WV counties and everything is fine, it does not mean that inferior educations for our children are acceptable.

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Who is responsible for Gilmer’s oversight of the LES?

If you access the State’s website you will learn that math and reading is red flagged for the LCES to be as bad as it can get.

Why is it that nothing is reported in Gilmer County about how that school is doing when we know that our sixth grade finishers from over there will go to the GCHS to finish their educations? 

It is like our students who attend LCES are forgotten about. Someone needs to be watching out for them.

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The really sad stories are left out.
The students who accrue debt and for whatever reasons, drop out of school after a year or two.

They have little hope of improving incomes, but still have debt.
More of them than you think.

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Information made ‘public’ forces accountability.
Do not hold your breath lest you turn blue.

‘They’ want elected. Get their place at the trough.
Then discover ‘exposure’ makes their work more difficult.

Informed citizens make informed decisions.
Why do we see the same names being elected over and over and over?

By WHEN we're allowed to see it......? on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Lots of work to be done with schools in Gilmer County. 2017-2018 Summative Assessments out today for student achievement.

Gilmer County High School.

For Math
*Exceed or Meet Standards=40% of Students.
*Fail to Meet Standards=60% of Students

For Reading
*Exceed or Meet Standards=36% of Students
*Fail to Meet Standards=64%

The scores speak volumes. What was done to accurately determine causes of failures and what will be done about it? BOE, the public has a right to know answers.

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The Founding Fathers screwed up, we should not have to work and pay our bills. Let that man behind the tree work and pay for it all.
Free education should be a right.
Free food should be a right.
Free healthcare should be a right. 
Free transportation should be a right.
Free entertainment should be a right.

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Thank you BOE members and Mrs. Lowther. Let’s work together at all community levels to make Gilmer County an educational power house in West Virginia. We can do it as an effective team and provision of information will be the key to success.

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Accountability - good point - and across Gilmer County.  We’ve seen glimpses and pieces of news WHEN we’re allowed to see it, mere mortals that we are. But never any follow up.  And the information come in bits and pieces (remember when we actually got to SEE what the Gilmer County Commission was up to?)  My question is, why do we never see the accountability or repercussion for actions of current Gilmer ‘elite’??

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Encouraging news that the superintendent will present her goals for Gilmer Schools on 9/10.

We assume that there will be a commitment for specific goals to achieve, measurable outcomes, completion dates for different steps and final goal achievement, and a meaningful monitoring program to determine if we are on track or there is need for mid-course fine tuning.

If any of this is missing there will not be meaningful accountability. Excellent business plans have all the components addressed above.

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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