Thursday, January 11, 2018

Action on Bills in the Senate and the House Sets Committee Membership

Today things kicked off with the first meeting of the Senate Education and Health Committee. Wasting no time addressing the teacher shortage crisis in the Commonwealth, they took up two bills the VEA is watching.

The first bill would restore an undergraduate education degree. This bill came from recommendations out of Governor McAuliffe's Teacher Shortage Work Group, from the Joint Committee on the Future of Elementary and Secondary Education, and from VEA's Teachers of Color Summit. The VEA supports this effort.

The next bill is one of about 30 bills on teacher licensure routes in an effort to "fix" the teacher shortage. We knew these bills would be coming as they are considered a cheap way to open the doors to teaching. I will say most of the bills deal with slight alterations to the licensing process, and there aren't too many really disturbing bills, but there are some bad ones out there. Delegate Steve Landes, Chair of the House Education Committee, has introduced an omnibus bill to bring all of the licensure bills into one. This will be the vehicle to make any changes to how we license teachers in VA and the VEA is working with Delegate Landes on this bill. Keep watching the Daily Reports as we learn more. We know this  is a teacher quality issue and opening our classroom doors to anyone who thinks they can teach leads to a drop in quality. Our students deserve better, and the VEA will work hard to make sure all of our legislators know that the science of teaching is as valuable as content knowledge. In fact, without a firm grasp of the science, failure is almost always certain. We can't allow a quick "fix" to make our problems worse.

Speaking of the House, Speaker Cox announced the committee assignments today, and we are so happy to have both teachers, Delegate Cheryl Turpin and Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg, named to the House Education Committee. Other great additions include Delegate Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Debra Rodman. You can read the Speaker's press release here.

Today was also Governor-Elect Ralph Northam's last day presiding over the Senate. President Pro Tempore Steve Newman took over after Northam addressed the body and said farewell. We are all gearing up her in Richmond for the Inauguration. Tomorrow's session will be short as legislators and lobbyists have a very long weekend as we all celebrate the peaceful transition of power here in our great Commonwealth.