House Republicans outline education agenda
Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday outlined their legislative agenda to promote opportunities in education by continuing to enact reforms in public education, promoting choice and flexibility, and encouraging early childhood education.
House Education Committee Chairman Steve Landes (R-Augusta), Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudon), Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Loudon), and Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico) held a press conference highlighting the proposed legislation.
“Students in the Commonwealth deserve a quality education. Our goal is to provide opportunities in education for students to have success, regardless of their circumstances,” said Delegate Landes, Chairman of the House Committee on Education. “The House of Delegates always makes education a top priority. The agenda we are outlining today builds on the work done in the last several years to raise teacher pay, reform the Standards of Learning and put parents and teachers back in charge of education. This year, the House of Delegates will continue to invest in public education, enact reforms that make our public school system more efficient, promote greater choice and flexibility for parents and encourage access to early childhood education through private partnerships. This is a robust legislative agenda.”
Delegate Rob Bell is carrying a constitutional amendment that would give the Board of Education the authority to establish charter schools in Virginia. Under the current law, local school boards retain most of the power to create charter schools.
“Charter schools empower families to make the decision that is best for their child’s education,” said Delegate Bell. “For years, Virginia has lagged behind other states when it comes to charter schools. New York has 197 and Washington D.C. has over 115 while Virginia has nine. This constitutional amendment will finally set up a framework in Virginia that encourages the creation and development of charter schools.”
Delegate Dave LaRock is carrying legislation to create Education Savings Accounts. Several other states have created ESAs to promote greater choice and flexibility in education. ESAs allow parents to receive 90 percent of the State’s portion of education funding, which is deposited annually to a savings account that can be accessed via a debit card. The funds can then be used for tuition, tutoring, private courses, instructional supplies for homeschooling, online learning, and more. Funds not used can be saved for college
“We must continue to reform our public education system to provide better education at a lower cost to taxpayers,” said Delegate LaRock. “And second, we must create more opportunities and choice for students and parents. Education spending should put children first.”
Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun) Chairs the Subcommittee on Education Innovation in the House of Delegates. He is carrying legislation to expand the membership of the SOL Innovation Committee, which the House of Delegates created in 2014 to continue exploring additional reforms to the SOLs.
“No one has been more committed to education reform over the last several years than the House of Delegates,” said Delegate Greason. “We have passed dozens of bills to cut red tape for local school leaders and teachers, enacted reforms to ensure that money is spent in the classroom and not lost in the education bureaucracy, and led the effort to reform the Standards of Learning. We are continuing our multi-year effort to make major innovations to public education in the Commonwealth.”
Several measures are also being introduced to increase access to early childhood education by creating a pilot program to test a mixed-delivery early childhood education model, establishing a stakeholder committee to explore how to break down barriers that limit the use of private providers and expanding the eligibility of the successful Educational Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit to include early education providers.
“There is broad agreement that early childhood education is valuable to our students and the Commonwealth. Our challenge is to find the most cost-effective way to deliver that value on behalf of the citizens we represent,” said Delegate Massie. “A universal pre-Kindergarten program would be very costly for the state, could lead to increased class sizes and limit our ability to invest in public education in the future. Our focus is on increasing access to early childhood education by breaking down barriers that limit the use of private providers, and incentivizing private investment in early childhood education. We believe Virginia has a unique opportunity to create a 21st century model for early childhood education.”
House GOP education agenda
Choice & Flexibility
HB3 (Bell, R.B.) Constitutional amendment (voter referendum); charter schools. Voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to strengthen charter schools.
HB8 (Bell, R.P.) Virginia Virtual School established. Establishes the Virginia Virtual School to provide students a broader array of classes.
HB518 (LeMunyon) Local school boards; public school choice. Gives students the option to transfer to any school within their school district.
HB131 (Bell, R.B.) Students who receive home instruction; participation in interscholastic programs.
HB389 (LaRock) Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts established. Allows families to receive money to choose a private school that better suits the instructional needs of the student.
HB1018 (Massie) Educational improvement scholarships tax credit program. Increases the tax credit of donations made to nonprofit scholarship foundations from 65 to 90 percent.
HB46 (Greason) Secretary of Education; establishment of Early Education Workforce Committee. Directs the Secretary of Education to establish a 21-member Early Education Workforce Committee with the key goal of ensuring an effective professional development and credentialing system for the early childhood education workforce.
HB47 (Greason) Mixed-Delivery Preschool Services Fund and Grant Program established. Awards grants on a competitive basis to urban, suburban, and rural community applicants to field-test innovative strategies and evidence-based practices that support a robust system of mixed-delivery preschool services
HB1019 (Massie) Educational improvement scholarships tax credit program; pre-kindergarten eligibility. Makes families with at-risk four-year-olds unserved by Head Start programs eligible to receive tax credits to enroll their child in a pre-k program.
HB259 (LaRock) Board of Education; Common Core State Standards. Prohibits Common Core from being implemented in Virginia.
HB516 (Landes) Board of Education; policy on sexually explicit instructional material.Provides that a parent is notified that a teacher is providing sexually explicit material and allows the parent to review the material and request a different assignment.
HB568 (Cox) Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program; grants. Strengthens the program to help low income students achieve higher education.
HB894 (Greason) Standards of Learning Innovation Committee; membership. Ensures that higher education is represented on the SOL innovation committee.
HB961(Rush) Four-year public institutions of higher education; alternative tuition or fee structures. Allows public higher education institutions to offer alternative tuition to students such as flat fee degrees.