Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Virginia Finally Passes ERA; Excellent Chairs Named to House Ed Subcommittees

January 15, 2020

The ERA passed the Virginia House of Delegates today! On a vote of 59-41, Virginia is headed to becoming the 38th state to ratify the ERA. Announcing passage, the Speaker of the House, the first woman to ever be Speaker in Virginia’s 401-year history, announced, “For all the women of the Commonwealth and for all the women here today, the motion passes!” It was a goose-bump moment for sure, and the House gallery was packed with advocates who’d fought for this for so long. Actual tally vote was not yet available when this was written, but we’ll post that tomorrow. If you don’t’ think election matter, this should prove that they do.

The House Education Committee met this morning to hear an update from Dr. James Lane, the State Superintendent of Instruction. The House Education Chair, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, also names her subcommittees, which is very important at the General Assembly. Subcommittees are where all vetting of bills happens—it’s where they get an extensive hearing. In the House, bills can move on or die on a subcommittee vote. Interestingly, in the Senate even bills that “die” in subcommittee all come to the full committee, but with a recommendation to kill them. The House gives more power to the subcommittees.

In a great piece of news, Delegate Lamont Bagby, a very good friend to the VEA and to our public schools, and a former public school teacher and administrator, will chair the subcommittee on PK-12. VEA member and classroom teacher Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg will chair the subcommittee that will review all bills dealing with the Standards of Learning (SOLs) and the Standards of Quality (SOQs). So, we will have a current classroom teacher leading the review of all bills that effect the SOLs. What a concept, right??!! The final subcommittee is Post-Secondary and Higher Education, which will be chaired by Delegate Mark Keam. The VEA will have some bills in that committee as we continue to work though dual enrollment issues, student loan and student debt, and teacher education programs. Delegate Keam will be an outstanding chair for that sub.

This afternoon the House Finance Committee heard some amazing presentations on school funding from some real experts. You can learnmore about them at the committee web site.

Presentations include a great overview of K-12 funding from Kent Dickie, State Superintendent of Budget; an analysis of the current revenues from Jim Regimbal, Fiscal Analyst with First Cities; a review of the equity challenges of the current funding methodology from Chris Duncombe, Policy Analyst from The Commonwealth Institute; and finally a review of the implications of the state funding methodology on local school divisions from Michael Malloy, Director of Government Relations, Fairfax County Public Schools. I encourage you to take a look at all these presentations for a summary of the challenges we face when we look at fully funding the needs of all our students.

A VEA-initiated bill, SB167, will be heard tomorrow in the Senate Education and Health Subcommittee. This proposes removing the use of only one evaluation in the definition of incompetence. Incompetence is one of the many reasons a teacher can be dismissed. An unsatisfactory evaluation should lead to support and professional development. It should not lead to a teacher being labeled “incompetent” and fired from a job. We feel very good that we’ll get this bill passed. More to come tomorrow.