Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Bills/Fight Tomorrow

The Senate Education and Health Committee took up a bill addressed in an earlier posting this morning. SB329, Senator Carrico’s bill to bar children prom pre-school if their parents fail to successfully complete a parenting course, failed to report. The debate was a microcosm of what it appears is happening in the Republican Senate caucus.

I won’t mention the Democrats other than to say that they all voted against it, and that Senator Saslaw was most outspoken in objecting to a bill that punishes children for the behavior of their parents.

The Republicans were divided, with the more conservative and newly elected members (Black, Carrico and Garrett) voting for the bill, and the more experienced Republicans voting against the measure (Martin, Newman, McWaters and Smith).

Over VEA objections, Senator Smith’s bill, SB 278, to change the date on which teachers on probationary contract must be non-renewed from April 15 to June 15 passed unanimously. The rationale for the change is that evaluations will now be based in part, up to 40%, on student test scores, and the scores won’t be ready in time for the April date. If this bill becomes law, teachers will have a longer window in which to seek other employment, but little notice that they do not have a job the following year.

This evening, Delegate Cline’s HB 250, which would have required school divisions to spend 67% of funds on instruction, was amended to only require reporting in the percentage by divisions.

Some of the battles are shaping up, and we’ll start fighting tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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