Tuesday, January 30, 2018

VEA Bill Passes the Senate and We Have a Teacher Licensure Bill to Work With

Today, Senate Bill 456, carried by Senator Jennifer McClellan at the request of the VEA, passed the Senate 39-0! This is our school climate survey. There is a budget amendment on the bill that must be included in the final budget or the bill will not become law, but we feel pretty good about that. Now the bill goes to the House for a run on that side of the Assembly. We will know soon how that is likely to go since we have a House version (HB1119) carried by Delegate Schyler VanVaslkenburg. That one is going to start up in Appropriations, which is slightly worrisome, but it does have a fiscal impact, so it makes sense.

The VEA has fought for this type of state-wide survey to help inform state policy on teacher retention. The bill requires the survey to include questions regarding school leadership, teacher leadership, teacher autonomy, demands on teachers' time, student conduct management, professional development, instructional practices and support, new teacher support, community engagement and support, and facilities and other resources. There is substantial research that shows that a school is more likely to retain effective teachers if it is led by a principal who promotes professional development for teachers, is characterized by collaborative relationships among teachers, has a safe and orderly learning environment and sets high expectations for academic achievement among students. We know salary is a part of the issue with teacher retention, but there is more to it and VA needs data to make the very best policy decisions and to measure the effectiveness of those decisions. We are excited about the success in the Senate and am hopeful the House will be as receptive. 

Also yesterday we got our first look at Delegate Lande's teacher licensure omnibus bill. There is a whole lot in the bill and the VEA is working with the patron on the issues we can support and those that are red lines for us. You can read the whole bill here. Please reach out to your member of the House and let them know how you feel about the bill. The Senate version of an omnibus bill will be revealed tomorrow. We will keep you updated here. Tomorrow I will also post details on where VEA is on the specific changes in the bill. There is a lot to digest.

Tomorrow in House Finance our bill on Tax Credits for Non-Reimbursed Classroom supplies gets its hearing. Delegate Hala Ayala is carrying this for us (HB624). With a $25 million price tag, this is a tough one, but Virginia sets aside $25 million in tax credit vouchers for private schools, so seems to me, this is a better use of credits. We will update you tomorrow.