Thursday, January 31, 2013

VEA Bill Passes, Two Rough Votes in Senate Ed & Health

This morning the Senate Committee on Education and Health considered a number of controversial education bills.  For now, I'll  only mention two.

SB 1207, the Governor's grade the school bill sponsored by Senator Stanley, reported straight party-line vote.  Under this bill, all schools will be assigned a letter grade.  There are many reasons to be against the bill, but a big one is the failure of the bill to exempt specialty schools like Richmond Alternative.  This school addresses the educational needs of students who cannot succeed in a traditional school, and it does a great job.  It is of little surprise that its students do not test well.  This school gets a D under the Governor's plan.  Another Richmond example is Amelia Street.  This is a special education school serving the needs of severely handicapped students.  Most of the students have physical disabilities, some have intellectual disabilities, and some have both.   Some of these students are learning such things as how to feed themselves.  Guess what, the test scores aren't great.  Despite the fact that miracles are performed by the staff at this school on a daily basis, Amelia gets a C.  One wonders what good purpose is gained by grading any school, but in some cases it is a terrible idea.

YEAS--Martin, Newman, Blevins, Smith, McWaters, Black, Carrico, Garrett--8.

NAYS--Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Locke, Barker, Northam, Miller--7.

SB1207 is headed to the full Senate.

Ralph Smith's SB 1099, a bill to abolish the Labor Day school opening requirement, failed to report on a 4-11 vote.

YEAS--Howell, Locke, Smith, Garrett--4.

NAYS--Martin, Saslaw, Lucas, Newman, Blevins, Barker, Northam, Miller, McWaters, Black, Carrico--11.

Good news from the House floor - Jim Lemunyon's HB 1889, a VEA initiated measure, passed the House 99-0 on the third and final reading.  This is the bill to screen teacher professional growth indicators from Freedom of Information Act requests.  Let's hope this bill will fare as well in the Senate.