Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Send A Message To Your Delegate Now!

Please write your Delegate urging that he or she support two bills now before the House.  Click here to send a message.

First, urge them to vote for HB 1871.  Bullying remains a persistent problem in our schools and in our society.

Victims of bullying display a range of responses, even many years later, such as:

1.     Low self-esteem

2.     Difficulty in trusting others

3.     Lack of assertiveness

4.     Aggression

5.     Difficulty controlling anger

6.     Isolation

Research shows us that the prevalence of bullying is predictive of school-wide passing rates on state-mandated achievement testing used to meet accreditation standards.

We learned that the passage of legislation defining bullying in Mississippi in 2010 has had a chilling effect on bullying there, so we seek the legislation before you today.  There is no criminal penalty or cause for civil action in this legislation, but it gives school personnel a definition to cite which clearly shows that bullying behaviors are forbidden by the code of Virginia.

Second, urge him or her to vote for HB 1889.  The Freedom of Information Act allows a governmental body to grant or deny public access to personnel records. 

We are both thankful and well served by the fact that most school boards show great wisdom in regard to this issue; however, with the advent of the collection of discrete student performance data for each teacher we wish to make it clear that this information should not be distributed for public consumption.

One thing that we are discovering from states that are ahead of Virginia in the development of teacher specific data is that news outlets will request this data, and in Los Angeles, for example, this data is published.  We know that the data is volatile and this year’s top teacher may be next year’s low performer.  Assignment of students to teachers has never been random and it never will be. 

If a teacher is a consistent underperformer, the division should address this issue.  However, no teacher deserves to wake up and read in the morning paper that they are the worst teacher at their school.  In one widely reported instance, this rude awakening led to the suicide of a very promising young teacher, who taught special needs students in Los Angeles.

I applaud Virginia’s school divisions for showing wise discretion in regard to this issue; however, the purpose of HB1889 is to make it clear that this data should not be released.

Please send a message to your Delegate urging him or her to vote for HB 1871 and HB 1889.