Thursday, February 7, 2013

One Victory/Dots Connected


The Senate Education and Health Committee reported Delegate LeMunyon's HB 1889 on a 14-1 vote.

YEAS--Martin, Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Newman, Blevins, Locke, Barker, Northam, Miller, Smith, McWaters, Black, Carrico--14.

NAYS--Garrett--1.

This is a VEA initiated bill to shield teacher Professional Growth Indicators from Freedom of Information Act requests.  This bill now heads to the full Senate.  Thanks Delegate LeMunyon!

I'm not sure who first said, "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you," but the sentiment certainly applies to how teachers should feel as they connect the dots this session.

First, we see the strong headwind behind Senator Obenshain's SB 934.  This bill allows charter schools teachers to be denied membership in the Virginia Retirement System, and for charter school teachers to be unlicensed.

Second, we see Delegate Habeeb's HB 2096 and Senator McDougle's SB 1324.  These bills allow for the state takeover of underperforming schools.  Currently, the number of schools involved is small, but as the state continues to make the SOL tests more rigorous, and as the scores required for accreditation continue to rise, one can reasonably assume that this number will grow.  The board that governs the newly created "Opportunity Educational Institution" will be appointed by the governor.  This institution will presumably contract with corporate entities such as Edison to convert these underperforming schools to charters.

The teachers in the schools which are taken over can seek a transfer or apply to teach in the charter school.  No transfer is guaranteed, and charter employment may not offer VRS and other benefits associated with public school employment.  An unintended consequence of this policy will be the reluctance of prospective teachers to take jobs in struggling schools - there would be no job security.

HB 2096 passed the House on a 66-34 vote.  The two Senate bills passed on 21-20 votes, with all Democrats voting against, all Republicans voting for, and Lt. Gov. Bolling breaking the tie.

Time will tell, but it appears to me what we are seeing may well be the beginning of a long-term degradation of one of the best public school systems in the nation.  Virginia's schools will resemble the schools in Louisiana, where these ideas came from, as these programs are implemented.

Tomorrow, I'll ask you to join a last ditch effort to fight this agenda.

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