On Monday’s “Lobby Day” for the Virginia Education Association and the Virginia PTA, members of the House Republican caucus managed to “pre-but” an afternoon rally by the groups, touting some of their own education proposals this morning that have been roundly denounced by teachers’ groups.
Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, Staunton Republican, is carrying a bill that would overhaul the state’s teacher contract system by replacing continuing contract status for teachers and principals with annual contracts.
“In business, we demand performance and accountability from executives and workers alike,” said Mr. Bell, a retired schoolteacher. “For the sake of our children, we must require the same results-oriented approach for our teachers and administrators.”
Another proposal would grant tax credits to corporations that provide scholarships to low-income children.
Del. James P. “Jimmie” Massie III, Henrico Republican, who is sponsoring the tax credit legislation, said that it “would improve the education of thousands of Virginia’s most disadvantaged children, improve our public schools and save the Commonwealth’s taxpayers millions of dollars. Existing models, including Florida’s long-standing, eleven-year scholarship tax credit program, have proven all three of these points.”
The few hundred who rallied Monday afternoon outside the Bell Tower on Capitol Square, however, begged to differ.
Kitty Boitnott, President of the Virginia Education Association, said that since the governor was proposing to give teachers annual performance-based evaluations, “it’s only fair that we offer the governor our own performance-based evaluation.”
Ms. Boitnott then ticked off a number of measures that the group supports, such as the repeal of a law preventing schools from starting before Labor Day, and others they oppose, including the teacher contract proposal.
Anne Carson, President of the Virginia PTA, later on spoke out against the tuition tax credit item, saying that the credits “look a whole lot like vouchers to me.”
Ms. Boitnott exhorted those in the crowd to look beyond Monday’s “Lobby Day” and “keep turning up the heat” on legislators over K-12 education proposals and funding.
“A one-time shot on lobby day, while it’s important, is not enough to keep our legislators accountable,” she said.