Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Noble Effort to Repeal Virginia’s Neo-Vouchers Failed

There are so many bills coming before committees tomorrow that I don’t have a clue regarding what you should write and call about, so I’m going to reflect upon a bill defeated today.

Senator Henry Marsh, a distinguished civil rights champion, the first Black mayor of Richmond, and the recipient of NEA’s Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Award, sponsored SB 1000, which would have repealed the tuition tax credit bill that passed in the 2012 legislative session.

Speakers in support of Marsh’s measure included Richmond School Board member Kim Gray, and representatives of VA- NAACP, First Cities, VASS, VSBA, and VEA.

Senator Marsh fought the vouchers of Massive Resistance, which paid for white children to attend private schools when the schools were closed in some localities so that they would not have to admit Black children.  He knows that siphoning money to private schools will weaken public education, which he calls “Virginia’s secret economic development tool.”

When I spoke on VEA’s behalf, I pointed out that Virginia ranks 31st in teacher pay, 38th in state per-pupil funding, that we earned a grade of D+ in public education funding in the recent Quality Counts report despite the fact that we are the nation’s 8th wealthiest state, and that we arerunning our schools on less money per-pupil than we did in 2008.  I suggested that we should not be channeling millions to private schools when we are woefully underfunding our public schools.

The vote on Marsh’s bill was a party line vote (The motion was to Pass By Indefinitely, so a “Nay” vote was for the bill.):

YEAS--Stosch, Norment, Hanger, Watkins, Newman, Ruff, Wagner, McDougle, Vogel--9.

NAYS--Colgan, Howell, Saslaw, Marsh, Lucas--5.

My hope is that Henry will keep bringing the bill back, and that one day we’ll have a Senate Finance Committee committed to standing up for public education.