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Schooled

I’ve spent a lot time thinking about education lately.

Maybe that’s because my daughter, a senior in high school, hasn’t yet committed to a college, and her dad and I are getting anxious about her first choice. (It will require some financial gymnastics.)

Or maybe it’s because that same daughter missed school last week when West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in just over a year.

Or maybe it’s because the antics that led to the teacher’s strike made me want to dig into the educational background of the state legislators who think they know more about education than teachers do. Thankfully, the omnibus education bill that would have used limited public dollars to pay for private education and charter schools was killed, and the strike ended. But my curiosity about the legislators who supported the bill was piqued.

And when I looked up who voted to continue moving forward with the bill, a familiar name popped up.

Eric Porterfield.

I wasn’t surprised. He’s the guy who made national news earlier this month for railing against the LGBTQ community. What did surprise me was the difficulty I had getting information about his educational background.

I started by looking at his bio on the WV State legislature’s website.

There wasn’t anything there.

Faced with that roadblock, I did what any concerned voter would do: I used Google. That took some time as I had to wade through all of the news stories about his controversial comments. I finally found information on a website called “Vote Smart.” According to it, Porterfield received a DDiv from Belle Meadow Bible College in 2009.

Since I’d never heard of the college, I looked it up.

There’s a reason I’d never heard of it.

From what I could tell from the website, it’s actually a correspondence course offered by an Independent Baptist Church in Bristol Virginia.

(http://www.bellemeadows.org/home.html)

When I showed this to a friend, she encouraged me to spend the $75.00 for the course.

I passed on her suggestion.

I didn’t, however, pass on continuing to dig for more information.

I didn’t find much.

In a self-completed candidate profile that ran in the May 5, 2018, edition of the Beckley Register Herald, Porterfield reported that he had “a BA in Religion and Arts, a Masters in Pastoral Theology, a Masters of Divinity.” https://www.register-herald.com/news/candidate-profile-eric-porterfield-house-district/article_a133ba54-51d1-11e8-a22c-5fb381dcf5e7.html.

There was no information about where he received these degrees. The only other reference to his educational background is in a September 28, 2012 article in the Princeton Times in which he says he went to a Bible College at age 20: https://www.ptonline.net/news/local_news/porterfields-bring-blind-faith-to-south-sudan/article_fa0ea72a-6f9d-5634-ad5e-fcd5a74464b1.html.

That’s it. That’s all I could find.

Which bothers me. It bothers me a lot.

As citizens, we are giving legislators the ability and responsibility of making decisions about education, and therefore the future of our children. We have the right to know if they are educated enough to do so.