Thursday, March 1, 2012

Home School Sports/Labor Day/Fire the Teacher Bill/Breaking through the Mumbo Jumbo

The last meeting of the Senate Committee on Education and Health this morning was eventful.

The good news is that they killed H.B. 947, the bill to allow home school students to participate in public school interscholastic programs. The vote was 7-8. Republican Senator Harry Blevins joined the 7 Democrats to defeat the bill.

HB 1063, Delegate Tata’s bill to repeal the King’s Dominion Act and give school boards control of the calendar, failed on a 6-9 vote.

The full Senate passed by HB576, the fire the teacher for no reason and with no due process bill, once again. This is torture. The word is that the vote will be on Monday. Please keep the calls and emails coming to Senators.

Talking about school funding in this legislative session has been difficult. When we talk about the cuts to school funding, the response is, “How can you talk about cuts, when the Governor ,the House Budget, and the Senate Finance Committee budget proposals add money for schools?” Well, the proposals don't begin to make up for all of the cuts since 2009. There isn’t much difference between what the House and Senate are proposing.

A concrete way to look at the impact for your school division is to check out this chart. It will take a little while to load onto your computer.

Click on first item – “Budget highlights.” Look for the House and Senate tabs. You’ll have to have Excel to read the chart.

As you can see, there are winners and losers. Let’s look at the difference between the funding we had in 2008-2009 and what is proposed by the House. Fredericksburg actually gains 27%, while Lexington loses 27.81%. Statewide the amount in the House budget is 9.71% less – a loss of $511 per pupil. So the small restoration of funds in the House budget falls far short of taking us back to where we were four years ago.

How can you use this? How about if a Lexington teacher wrote a letter to the editor saying something like this:

I keep hearing members of the Virginia House of Delegates crowing about how much they are doing for our public schools. Well, I’ve checked it out, and the House budget provides 27.81% less in state funding for our schools in Lexington that was provided in the 2008-2009 school year.

Our students are suffering. Classes are larger. Course offerings have been reduced, and text books are outdated.

We need some straight talk about investing in the future of our children by providing them with an education of high quality. What we don’t need is less-is-more mumbo-jumbo from our state legislators.

Check out the numbers for your school division. I’m sure you can write a better letter than I.