West Virginia board of education member Wade Linger has resigned, citing frustration over what he called the state Legislature's long-term meddling with the board's work



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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — West Virginia Board of Education member Wade Linger has resigned, citing frustration over what he called the state Legislature's long-term meddling with the board's work.

State school board attorney Mary Catherine Tuckwiller confirmed Linger's resignation Wednesday.

In a statement provided to the board, Linger said he believes "it is impossible for the State Board to be effective in carrying out its mission under current conditions, particularly in the Legislature."

On a statewide radio show Wednesday, Linger said his frustration boiled over with promises of changes to Common Core teaching standards from both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.

"Now they want to go as far as to tell us what to call our standards," Linger said on MetroNews' "Talkline." ''What to teach, what not to teach, what to test, what not to test, how to use tests. Every little element of education has now been politicized."

The board in late December voted to replace K-12 math and English educational standards based on Common Core.

But Del. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, said in early January during a gathering organized by The Associated Press that lawmakers will likely try to repeal educational standards, even after recent changes that stripped away some major complaints about Common Core. Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said at the meeting the conversation needed to focus on filling about 600 teaching vacancies.

"We need to put this issue to rest," Martirano said of the Common Core debate. "It is serving as a great distraction right now to the educational delivery model in this state."

In separate statements, Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, expressed their appreciation for Linger's service on the board.

"While he's free to air any concerns, as elected officials it is the duty of the members of the Legislature to represent the concerns of our constituents," Armstead said. "With a state education system ranked near or at the bottom of many metrics, we feel it is our duty to work with the Board and Department of Education on changes that could help improve the system and better serve our students' educational needs."

In 2012, Linger was instrumental in the firing of former state schools Superintendent Jorea Marple.

He also was at the center of proposed alterations to the state's new education science standards concerning climate change. Linger suggested the tweaks and said last year that he didn't believe it was a "foregone conclusion" that the climate is in fact changing. Most peer-reviewed studies, science organizations and climate scientists say that it is, and that most of the increase temperature increase comes from man-made sources.

The board scrapped the proposed changes and voted to allow students to use scientific models to draw their own conclusions about climate change.

The board is made up of 12 members, including nine voting members appointed by the governor.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin must appoint a replacement for Linger, whose term runs until November 2017. Tomblin also must replace Gayle Manchin, whose term expired in November. She can continue serving until a replacement is named.

Linger has served as the board's president in the past. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he has worked for a variety of high-tech companies, including a stint as the first vice president of research for the West Virginia High Technology.

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