Thursday, March 8, 2012

Victory! HB 576 Re-referred to Committee!

The defeat of HB 576 gives VEA a major legislative victory in what can only be described as a very anti public education General Assembly session. We have work on the budget and VRS legislation that is yet to be done, but let’s reflect on the fact that the VEA was up against the Governor, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, and the Virginia School Boards Association and we won.

I am seeking the video of today’s debate, and I will post it as soon as I have it. I think you will especially enjoy the remarks of Senators Hanger and Puckett.

It is very important to note that beating this bill was a VEA team effort. Every member who emailed, called, donned black or attended a regional rally; VEA’s leadership; and the entire VEA staff all had a part in killing this bill.

Our legal staff, who did the research that showed that those who already held continuing contract had a property right of which they could not be legally deprived, gave us the ammunition to force a major rewrite of the bill to "grandfather" all who already had continuing contract.

VEA VP Meg Gruber’s remarks regarding the impact of the bill on Navy wives led to an amendment and greater scrutiny of the bill.

We used the teacher turnover, teacher demographic information and teacher supply information to our advantage. We also pointed out that none of our neighboring states were denying teachers fair dismissal procedures. We also pointed out that all state workers have a process more advantageous to the employee than what teachers now have. I could go on, but the fact is that we lobbied the bill.

Although the vote was 23-17, I really think there were 25 Senate heroes. Had Senators Norment and Watkins not taken a Valentine’s Day stroll leading to the defeat of SB 438, the Senate Companion to HB 576, SB 438 would have passed the House. But, there were 23 heroes today. We need to thank them all.

23 Senate Heroes

Senator George Barker, Senator Bill Carrico, Senator Chuck Colgan, Senator Creigh Deeds, Senator Adam Ebbin, Senator John Edwards, Senator Barbara Favola, Senator Emmet Hanger, Senator Mark Herring, Senator Janet Howell, Senator Mamie Locke, Senator Louis Lucas, Senator Dave Marsden, Senator Henry Marsh, Senator Donald McEachin, Senator John Miller, Senator Yvonne Miller, Senator Ralph Northam, Senator Chap Petersen, Senator Phillip Puckett, Senator Toddy Puller, Senator Dick Saslaw, and Senator Jill Vogel

While we are at it, we should thank the Delegates who voted against the bill. Although the bill passed the House, we got a stronger vote than anyone expected on February 13th, and that, too, was a factor in its ultimate demise.

43 House Heroes

Alexander, BaCote, Brink, Bulova, Carr, Crockett-Stark, Dance, Edmunds, Englin, Filler-Corn, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., Hugo, James, Johnson, Keam, Kilgore, Kory, Lewis, Lopez, McClellan, McQuinn, Miller, Morefield, Morrissey, O'Quinn, Orrock, Plum, Rush, Rust, Scott, J.M., Sickles, Spruill, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Ware, R.L., Watts, Yost--43.

Delegate Bobby Orrock spoke effectively against the bill on the House side. Seems to me that Bobby gave members of his own party some cover.

This bill will be the subject of Senate Education and Health Committee deliberations between sessions. We will need to participate in those deliberations. Hopefully, the bill will be amended to include fair treatment of teachers and principals. If it does not – we will fight it once more.

Friends from both parties stood with us. The vote on this bill should be a major factor as we choose who we will support in the next House and Senate Elections.

But for now – this victory is sweet. I thank you for all you did, and I thank those legislators who stood with us when we really needed them. I urge you to find ways to thank each of them.

Press Release. Check out the press release that VEA distributed about the demise of HB 576.

News Media Coverage of Our Win. See stories published in the Virginian-Pilot, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily Press, Free Lance-Star, News Leader, Washington Times, Roanoke Times, and Associated Press.