Now it just needs to be passed in the House of Representatives, but this is a good beginning.
AARP Praises Passage of Bipartisan Older Americans Act in Senate
Now it just needs to be passed in the House of Representatives, but this is a good beginning.
U.S. Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act, End of NCLB Era Draws Closer
From the article: "Good things are worth waiting for – even if they take 13 years. After countless false starts and delays, the U.S. Senate stepped up on Thursday and passed the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA). By an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 81 to 17, the Senate approved a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that takes a major step in closing the door on the disastrous “test, blame and punish” legacy of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), passed in 2002."
Click on the article title to read the rest of this important information.
NEA Education Insider - July 10, 2015
Highlights include -
May 21, 2015
The news at this morning’s Senate Finance Committee was good. Virginia’s revenues are exceeding projections by 2.8%. That’s about $470 million more than anticipated. That bodes well for the next biennium. It’s been since 2007 that a Governor has had significant revenue increases to work with when crafting a budget.
On Monday, the Virginia Early Childhood Education Foundation conducted a briefing on a recent research study which addressed the long term benefit of participation in the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI). In addition they have published a FAQ document regarding the study. The key finding is that students who had attended VPI were 4% more likely to be promoted on-time to 8th grade. However, VPI had no influence on 8th Grade SOL test scores. The nugget in the analysis was this: SOL test scores have little predictive value – other important educational outcomes such as student retention, course grades, and attendance are better indicators of students’ long-term school and life success. So I see two takeaways: we need to continue supporting Pre-K education, and we need to completely reassess the role of testing in education.
If you have a primary I surely hope you plan on voting on June 9th. The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) just released a visualization of primary turnout. Between 1.4% and 16.4% of registered voters participate in primaries. This gives educators the potential of having great power if we all turn out. The VEA Fund for Children and Public Education has only recommended candidates in two of the eighteen primaries: Democrat Daniel Gecker in Senate District 10 and Republican Emmett Hanger in Senate District 24.
The Virginia Association of School Superintendents just did a survey which reveals some very interesting facts. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Staples said in November of 2014 that” Since 2008, K-12 public education has been reduced by 5,000 positions in Virginia.” The VASS survey gives an update and the news is not good. The number is actually 8,001: 3,785 teachers, 232 school-based administrators, 3,701 support staff, and 283 division level administrators. Consider, too, that we have 51,818 more students in our schools today than we did in 2008.
They also detailed the cut back in programs as a consequence of the budget cuts: 47 school divisions have eliminated fine arts programs, 40 divisions have eliminated foreign language programs, 34 have eliminated physical education programs, and 88 eliminated career and technical education programs.Twenty-eight present of divisions have eliminated co-curricular programs: 53 eliminated academic clubs, 45 eliminated student clubs, and 58 eliminated athletic programs.These statistics are not reflective of a state which is putting kids first.The VEA continues to support fair, bipartisan redistricting. We participate in a coalition called OneVirginia2021. The Richmond Times Dispatch’s recent editorials (1, 2) on this topic have been quite good, as was the one in the Staunton News Leader.
Redistricting quote of the week: The point of elections, after all, is to let voters pick their leaders. The act of picking depends on having a choice. But in most of Virginia’s legislative districts, the voters have no choice. - RTD Editorial 05/20/15
Many years ago when I taught in Norfolk, the school board tried to save money by outsourcing student transportation services, it turned into a real nightmare. The bus drivers told the principals that they did not work for them and that they did not need to do what they said. There were all sorts of problems which led to the school system losing a lot of money when the repurchased a new bus fleet to go running their own pupil transportation system. A recent article about the problems Chesterfield County is facing now that they have privatized custodial service led me wonder, “When will they learn?”
May 5, 2015
Virginia’s upside down tax system is one reason why we don’t have enough money to support core services like public education. A recent report from the Commonwealth Institute points out that, “the lowest-income workers pay 8.9 percent of their incomes in taxes while the richest 1 percent only pay 5.1 percent.”
On another topic, it is increasingly clear that Virginia’s approach to solving the problems faced by our “Low Performing Schools” will take long-term solutions, including changing housing policies. We are blaming teachers, administrators, and school divisions for the consequences of policies which have concentrated poverty. In the 19th century, as John Moeser of the University of Richmond asserts, “blacks and whites lived in close proximity.” The policies of the 20th century changed things. These policies – race-based zoning codes (first adopted in Baltimore and later ruled unconstitutional), private covenants (deed restrictions on selling to “Negros and Jews”), bans on interracial marriage and accompanying bans on living in neighborhoods with those you could not marry, redlining (charging more for services like banking and insurance in minority neighborhoods), and the concentration of public housing in impoverished neighborhoods – have resulted in a concentration of poverty which leads to low educational achievement, high crime, and poor health. Our cities are more segregated than ever.
Monday’s New York Times has an excellent article on the impact of concentrated poverty on children’s futures, and the accompanying interactive map is most revealing. Check out Roanoke, Richmond, Petersburg, and Norfolk and contrast them with Fairfax.
Although we must do all we can in the short run to improve our low-performing schools, we also need to get real about the long, slow task of changing our housing policies to incentivize the de-concentration of poverty. The policies of the 21st Century must counter those of the 20th. All educators need to stand up for our urban colleagues when they are blamed for what they can’t control, and, for the sake of our nation’s poor children, we need to stand up for changes in our housing policies that will de-concentrate poverty.
April 24, 2015
The Put Kids First (PKF) rally on April 18th was most successful, and those who stood for education fired the first round in what promises to be a state budget battle of crucial importance to the future of public education in Virginia. Please check out an example of the news coverage: http://wtvr.com/2015/04/18/thousands-attend-put-kids-first-rally-in-richmond/ The VEA and PTA fired the first shot of the 2016 budget battle. We were the Minutemen! There are signs that the stars are aligning, as the revenues available to Governor McAuliffe as he crafts his budget are increasing. From Jim Regimbal of Fiscal Analytics: I believe we will have at least $2.5 bil. in additional GF revenue over the next 4 years to spend above the current 2014-16 biennium official revenue forecast. I think GF revenues will grow about 6.8% in FY 15, instead of the 4.7% contained in the budget. We must work to make sure public education is first in line as these new revenues are allocated.
Quote to note: More revenue is coming into the state than expected. That’s good news for our economy and the state’s ability to pay for our priorities, such as schools and health care. But Virginia’s lawmakers should be careful with this additional revenue, making sure it’s invested in the things we know grow our economy, rather than spent in the form of tax cuts and misguided giveaways. – Mitchel Cole of the Commonwealth Institute
As we follow up on the PKF Rally, what are the steps in this ensuing battle? In a thumbnail, they are as follows:
Local Earned Media Events (from now on until the budget is adopted) – we need to have PKF events stressing the need to reinvest in our schools in every locality of Virginia. Please be a part of making this happen. Your first chance is wearing red on May 5.
Budget Development – The Governor’s staff is now working on Governor McAuliffe’s first biennial budget. The budget development process will continue until the Governor presents his budget shortly before Christmas.
November Elections – We need to make funding our schools an issue in every race. Here is the question you should ask at every candidate forum: In Per Pupil Public Elementary and Secondary School Revenue from State Sources VA ranks 41st. State funding is 15% below what it was in 2009. Will you work to increase state funding for your schools? We need to elect 21 friends of public education in the Senate and 51 in the House. Fortunately we have friends in both parties.
December Budget Presentation – This is when Governor McAuliffe will have his opportunity to begin a significant reinvestment in our schools. We need to keep the pressure on and back him up.
Budget Hearings – These hearings, which occur shortly before the General Assembly Session begins, will give us our chance to support or suggest amendments to the Governor’s budget.
General Assembly 2016 – November’s elections will determine the dynamics of the session ahead. The Republicans will surely still hold the House, and the Senate is in play. The dynamics will vary depending on whether or not we have a divided legislature. Regardless, as the late great Senator Hunter Andrews used to say, “The Governor proposes and the General Assembly disposes.” As it has always been, we will have to fight for every public education penny we get out of the Virginia legislature.
Please make a personal pledge to be a part of the battle to gain needed support for our schools.
April 17, 2015
The General Assembly returned to the Capitol on Wednesday for the reconvened session to consider the Governor's vetoes and amendments. HB1626, the Tebow Bill, was vetoed by the Governor, and the House, the chamber of origin, failed to override the veto on a 60-39 vote. It was widely thought that the bill would survive the House, but die in the Senate. The House vote was a bit of a surprise. It takes two thirds of the votes to override, so this bill is dead.
Here is an excerpt from the Governor’s veto explanation:
Allowing home-schooled students to participate in interscholastic competitions would disrupt the level playing field Virginia’s public schools have developed over the past century. For example, VHSL rules state that a student must pass five subjects or the equivalent in the previous semester, and be enrolled in five subjects or the equivalent offered for credit toward graduation, in order to participate in the league’s events. While the bill provides that home-schooled students must demonstrate evidence of progress in order to participate in interscholastic activities, the unique nature of their educational situation precludes conformity to the same standards.
Virginia’s public schools provide a complete package of scholastic offerings and access to extracurricular activities. Participation in athletic and academic competitions is a privilege for students who satisfy eligibility requirements. Opening participation in those competitions to individuals who are not required to satisfy the same criteria upends Virginia’s extracurricular framework and codifies academic inequality in interscholastic competition.
We thank Governor McAuliffe for his veto of this bill, and I ask you to look at the House vote. It is interesting!
YEAS--Adams, Anderson, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Byron, Campbell, Cline, Cole, Cox, Davis, DeSteph, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Hodges, Hugo, Joannou, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Scott, Stolle, Taylor, Villanueva, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Mr. Speaker--60.
NAYS--Albo, Austin, BaCote, Bloxom, Bulova, Carr, Filler-Corn, Futrell, Helsel, Herring, Hester, Hope, Ingram,James, Keam, Kory, Krupicka, Lindsey, Lopez, Mason, McClellan, McQuinn, Murphy, Orrock, Plum, Preston, Rasoul, Rust, Sickles, Simon, Spruill, Sullivan, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Watts, Yost--39.
First, note that there are only 99 votes. That’s because Delegate Joe Morrisey’s seat was vacated in accordance with the Virginia Constitution when he moved away from his House district. Second, note the Republicans who supported the veto: Austin, Bloxom, Ingram, Orrock, Rust and Yost. Finally, note that only one Democrat opposed the veto, Johnny Joannou.
I hope to see you at the Put Kids First Rally tomorrow!
April 13, 2015
Former VEA Vice President Dom Melito used to say, "In Virginia we only have elections in years that end in a number." Dom was right, and in the months ahead we have two elections -- primaries on June 9 and the General Election on November 4.
The entire House and Senate are up for election, all 140 seats. Control of the Senate is in play -- the Republicans now have a 21-19 advantage. In the House the Republicans enjoy a super majority, but the Democrats hope to change that. They'll only need to gain two seats to do so, and that would empower them to demand recorded votes on legislation.
In many of Virginia's gerrymandered districts winning the primary is tantamount to winning the election, so participation in the primaries is important. Please check the list below to see if you live in a district with a primary. Many localities are divided, so checkhttp://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ to find your state house and senate district numbers.
Let's take a look at June 9th to see if you have a primary.
District 8 -- Virginia Beach
Bill Desteph vs. Craig Hudgins - Republican Primary
District 10 -- Chesterfield, Richmond and Powhatan
Emily Francis, Daniel Gecker and Alexander McMurtrie -- Democratic Primary
District 11 -- Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Amelia
Amanda Chase, Steve Martin and Barry Moore -- Republican Primary
District 12 -- Henrico and Hanover
SiobhanDunnavant, Vincent Haley, Bill Janis and Edward Whitlock -- Republican Primary
District 14 -- Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Southampton and Franklin City
John Cosgrove vs. William Haley -- Republican Primary
District 24 -- Augusta, Rockingham, Staunton, Waynesboro, Greene and Madison
Emmett Hanger*, Dan Moxley and Pattie Marshall -- Republican Primary
*Please note that Emmett Hanger is recommended by the VEA Fund for Children and Public Education
District 29 -- Prince William, Manassas City andManassas Park
Michael Futrell, Jeremy McPike and Atif Quarni -- Democratic Primary
District 2 -- Prince William and Stafford
Timothy Ciampaglia vs. Mark Dudenhefer -- Republican Primary
District 17 -- Roanoke City, Roanoke County and Botetourt
Harry Griego vs. Christopher Head -- Republican Primary
District 28 -- Stafford and Fredericksburg
Bill Howell vs. Susan Stimpson -- Republican Primary
District 29 -- Frederick, Winchester and Warren
Mark Berg vs. Christopher Collins -- Republican Primary
District 44 -- Fairfax
Justin Brown vs. Paul Krizek - Democratic Primary
District 45 -- Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax
Larry Altenburg, Craig Fifer, Julie Jacopic, Mark Levine and Clarence Tong -- Democratic Primary
District 63 -- Petersburg, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George and Hopewell
Lashrecse Aird, Larry Brown, Mouse Jones, Atiba Muse and Derry Rawlison -- Democratic Primary
District 69 -- Richmond City and Chesterfield
Betsy Carr and Preston Brown -- Democratic Primary
District 74 -- Henrico, Charles City and Richmond City
Stephen Adkins,Lamont Bagby and Leonidas Young -- Democratic Primary
District 79 -- Portsmouth and Norfolk
Stephen Heretickand Johnny Joannou -- Democratic Primary
The voter turnout for the primary contests is historically very low. Let's make sure that VEA members show up in big numbers to prove that we are a force to be reckoned with.
NEA Education Insider
April 3, 2015
Barring an unforeseen special session, the work of the General Assembly will end on April 15th with the reconvened or veto session. So, allow me to be abrupt in asserting that it is already time to begin working on the 2016 session.
November's elections give us the opportunity to elect 51 friends of public education in the House and 21 in the Senate. We need to make sure that those issues of importance to our schools (early childhood education, over-testing, low pay for school employees, and a lack of state support) are election issues.
The session ahead will be crucial as it is a budget session, and Governor McAuliffe will be presenting his first budget. We need to be the squeaky wheel as the budget is being developed, and that process is ongoing.
So, I have two things to ask of you at this crucial juncture.
First, come to Richmond to participate in the Put Kids First rally on April 18th. Check out http://www.goodforvirginia.org/putkidsfirst for the details and to RSVP.
Second, mark two dates on our calendar. June 9th will be the date of the House and Senate primaries in many districts in Virginia. In many of our partisan districts that is the only vote that matters. So if you have a primary, please plan to vote on June 9th. And please mark November 3rd on your calendar. This will be a crucial election day as all 140 members of the House and Senate will be up. Please ask all you know to mark their calendars.
These two actions will make all the difference in the 2016 General Assembly.
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