Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bad Bill Killed/Funding Clarification

Much of VEA’s work at the GA is working to keep bad things from happening. This work often goes unnoticed, but it makes a huge difference in the long run.

Yesterday, a bill we had been lobbying against failed in the Standards of Quality Subcommittee of the House Education Committee.

The bill was Delegate Cole’s HB 138. The bill would have required public schools to determine whether each student enrolling in a public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States. Essentially, it would have made school personnel perform the duties of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. This would have been a new burden on our schools, and would have undermined the relationship between school personnel and immigrant communities. An unintended consequence would have been a fear on the part of immigrants that would motivate keeping children away from school. In essence the children of undocumented aliens, some of whom are U.S. citizens, would be punished for the behavior of their parents.

Delegate Bulova made the motion to table and only Chairman Lingamfelter voted against the motion.

One of the statements that the Governor has been repeating like a mantra is harming our efforts to gain funding for public education in Virginia. Whenever he discusses public school funding he says, “… in K-12 education, according to the JLARC report, total funding has grown 41% over the last decade, while student enrollment has only gone up 6%.”

Yesterday, Sarah Herzog of the Senate Finance Committee staff told the rest of the story:

GF and NGF Appropriations Over Ten Years (GF and NGF) – FY 2002 to FY 2011. Per JLARC’s annual report on State Spending, total Direct Aid (GF and NGF) increased 41 percent while enrollment increased 6 percent and inflation increased 23 percent. This results in an inflation-adjusted per pupil increase of about 12 percent over ten years.

Note: GF = General Fund and NGF = Non General Fund

The JLARC State Spending report the Governor quotes points out that the implementation of the federal mandates associated with NCLB and special education requirements had a substantial impact on the cost of public education during this period.