1. I'm going to start with the really, enormously huge stinker that is Senator Obenshain’s SJR256 (the House bill is HJR 526) which proposes a constitutional amendment that would take away decision-making power regarding the establishment of charter schools in school divisions from local school boards and hand it over to the nine-member Virginia Board of Education, which is appointed by the Governor. This is another version of the Opportunity Education Institution (which was found unconstitutional)--see what I think of that horror show here and here. Whatever you think of charter schools, whether or not to establish them is a decision for local communities and their school boards to make, not for a bunch of Governor appointees.
This initiative is an affront to democracy and an affront to local control, and the fact that the bill's supporters are using the democratic process and the state's own Constitution to undermine the democratic process and to disenfranchise citizens is offensive. If you contact your delegate and senator about any education matter this legislative session, make it this one. Unfortunately, it already passed the Senate on a 21-17 vote with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats voting against it. I guess Republican State Senators in Virginia are opposed to local control. Contact your delegate and senator and tell them you oppose this bill.
2. HB1328 would require school principals to assess and report the immigration status of students at their schools. This is wrong on many levels. Immigration policy enforcement is not the job of school principals (and they have enough on their plates as it is). This would put school administrators in the role of immigration officers and pose a real ethical dilemma for them, and it would intimidate students and parents who are immigrants, keeping them from going to school. Contact your delegate and senator and tell them you oppose this bill.
3. The "Tebow" bill which permits home-schooled high school students to participate in public school sports at their local high schools passed the House 57 to 41 on Thursday. It was defeated last year. For my thoughts on this bill, see last year's post on VA GA education legislation. Then, contact your senator and tell them to oppose this bill.
4. The first bill is already dead and gone but it would have reduced the number of SOL tests from 29 to 17. The Senate Education and Health Committee rejected the bill on a 9 to 6 vote. Thanks to Senator John Miller (D-Newport News) for proposing this. Please contact your delegate and senator and let them know you support this type of bill.