Another unfunded mandate

No doubt many public schools in West Virginia ought to have more qualified people available to counsel students. Full-fledged psychologists are called for to help some children, especially during the current drug abuse crisis that has affected so many parents.

So, at first glance, a bill moving through the West Virginia House of Delegates appears to have merit. It is HB 2397, and, if enacted, it would mandate that every public school system must employ at least one psychologist for every 1,000 students in kindergarten through seventh grade.

Trouble is, like so many great ideas emanating from the Capitol, there is no funding attached to the bill. It is one more unfunded mandate — an expensive order from Charleston that has to be paid for at the local level.

For every dollar school systems are told how to spend, they have that much less discretion in meeting local needs that may not be obvious to state officials. In this situation, less money would be available for instructional purposes.

Unfunded mandates are one example of the counterproductive centralization of public education. They need to stop.

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