We are barely two months into the new year, but Wheeling “newspapers” have featured Senator Ryan Weld (R – Brooke) in 18 articles, editorials, and op-eds and his picture is featured prominently in a third of them. Four of these are editorials which singled him out for special praise.
In today’s op-ed, Weld bemoans the failure to get Senate Bill 451, the omnibus education bill, passed. Early in the piece, he reflects on why it failed:
In hindsight, it seems like it was doomed from the start, weighed down by a strong campaign of fear and misinformation. Only after the bill died did many of us in the Senate hear from county superintendents, Board of Education members, and teachers who were suddenly realizing at what they’d just lost.
Educators were misinformed and they didn’t pay attention to a massive education overhaul until it was too late? Huh? And where did this “strong campaign of fear and misinformation” originate? Of course, it’s the unions! Not unlike editorials in the Intelligencer, Weld believes that teachers and school personnel are incapable of thinking for themselves preferring their union leaders tell them how to think.
But wait, there’s more:
In recent weeks, the leaders of the state’s teachers unions have taken a new angle in their struggle to come up with reasons why they’re opposed to any kind of education reform. The narrative has now shifted to their belief that SB 451 was created without any input from classroom teachers, parents, administrators, and families.
There was input? Really? The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Phil Kabler says that individual public response was limited to 70 seconds and the bill itself wasn’t written by the delegates – it was copied almost word-for-word from the ALEC website:
As noted here previously, the nearly 140-page Senate Bill 451 was not the product of a consensus of stakeholders, but suddenly emerged as if from thin air — ALEC-cadabra.
. . . . a bill that Sen. Paul Hardesty, D-Logan, astutely noted, appeared to be made up largely of sections lifted verbatim from ALEC position papers and proposed legislation.
Finally, how often do you see politicians being given space to explain why they didn’t vote for a piece of legislation? On Tuesday, Weld and Republican Charles Clemens (R - Wetzel) voted against the NRA-backed campus carry legislation and were given an opportunity on Thursday's front page to explain their vote in a front-page story:
Senators Charles Clements, Ryan Weld Explain Votes Against Campus Carry Bill
No other senators or delegates were given that opportunity. Clements cited WVU’s opposition and he suggested that the reason for the bill was that the NRA was pushing it. Weld, careful not to offend the NRA, suggested it was not a 2nd Amendment issue – it was about local control:
“I’m not opposed to college students being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but we were removing the school’s ability to regulate. If West Liberty University or WVU wants to allow students or staff to exercise their rights, it should be within their purview to find policies that work for them. My vote on that bill was about local control.”
And so, our local Ogden papers allowed Weld to explain himself so that he won’t offend the NRA and their supporters.
A final thought: We’re not done with Weld: there’s the upcoming special legislative education session and, of course, summer is vacation time – last year, we were treated to a front-page story of his trip to England.