Northam issues K-12 education policy plan

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam today unveiled his policy plan to bolster Virginia’s public education and strengthen opportunities for all of Virginia’s children.

ralph northamNortham, who has served as assistant professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School where he taught medicine and ethics, pledged to address the challenges facing Virginia’s public education by investing in our students and providing our schools and teachers with the resources they need to provide a first-class education to every child.

“Quality public education is the cornerstone of a successful society,” said Northam, the Democratic Party nominee for governor. “We all want our children to have the chance at a promising future, and the way to do that is by supporting our schools and teachers with the resources they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. I’ll fight to make sure that all of Virginia’s children have a chance at the future they deserve.”

Northam, as lieutenant governor, cast tie-breaking votes to protect Virginia’s public education from being raided with unconstitutional private school vouchers and to keep decisions about public charter schools in the hands of local school boards. He helped secure increased state investments in home visiting programs for vulnerable families and children and increased per pupil funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative, the state’s public preschool program for at-risk students. He also introduced legislation to find a dedicated revenue stream for paying Virginia’s educators and to raise teacher salaries.

“Ed Gillespie and Betsy DeVos are pushing an education agenda that ignores civil rights protections for students and leaves them vulnerable to widespread discrimination,” said Princess Moss, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Education Association. “Gillespie is going to be front and center in rubber-stamping Betsy DeVos’ agenda to carry this out, and that will be harmful to Virginia students. Ralph Northam is the candidate who will work to make sure that every student and parent has the opportunity and support that they need to succeed. Ralph Northam is a friend of public education.”

As governor, Northam plans to bolster Virginia’s education system through strategies including:

Champion Strong Teachers and Leaders

  • Prioritize state investments in increased teacher pay

  • Ensure students receive the individualized instruction and support they need.

  • Fully fund the Standards of Quality

  • Support teacher and principal leadership development

  • Create a Governor’s K-12 Education Policy advisory committee

  • Streamline pathways into the profession

  • Recruit, train and support the retention of professional educators

Modernize SOL Testing

  • Modernize SOL tests to ensure smarter and more effective measures that define the growth

Focus on Equity and Opportunity for All

  • Ensure all children have strong public schools in their communities

  • Build school discipline policies that are equitable and ensure alternatives are readily accessible

  • Limit long term suspensions and expulsions with minor exceptions for extreme circumstances

  • Explore innovative methods to use data analytics and predictive modeling to identify and help at risk students succeed

Build Streamlined Pathways into the Workforce

  • Relieve the standardized testing burden on high school students

  • Create flexibility and opportunity for internships and on the job experience in high school

  • Build in greater career exposure and exploration

  • Emphasize competencies the business community has clearly stated a need for

  • Facilitate innovative models, such as magnet schools and specialty schools like CodeRVA

  • Expand access to dual enrollment programs

  • Leverage public and private online coursework

  • Bring enhanced broadband to rural communities

Equipping Students with High Tech Skills

  • Emphasize robust computer science education

  • Support teachers in the implementation of new computer science standards across all grades

  • Develop, pilot and refine interdisciplinary general math and science courses and specific courses

  • Bring math and science skills to scale statewide, and actively recruit students to take them

Create a State Education Foundation

  • Create a Virginia Public Education Foundation to receive and leverage public and private investments to support schools in high poverty communities in need of additional student supports

  • Provide flexible funds to schools and divisions needing resources to design and implement innovative programs and practices

Maximize Investments in Early Childhood Education

  • Protect investments in evidence based home visiting programs and expanded access to and enhanced quality of public preschool programs

  • Support scaling models of high quality preschool programs

  • Make career pathways into the early childhood profession more cost efficient, accessible statewide, and aligned with evidence based practices.

Leverage State Resources to Support the Whole Child

  • Take a holistic approach to education policy, particularly in communities most challenged by poverty

  • Support schools and divisions seeking to create school based health care centers

  • Ensure there are governing structures in place, such as the Children’s Cabinet, to support meaningful collaboration at the secretariat and state agency levels to better align programs and services for children, particularly in high-poverty communities

Support Rigorous State Accountability

  • Support the reforms recently proposed by the Virginia Board of Education to change the way public schools are accredited by the state

  • Support an accreditation system in which schools are held accountable in a way that rewards for student growth with the resources they need to continue success, and not simply a punitive system that only accounts for reaching benchmarks

  • Improve our systems to identify where schools need help and provide targeted assistance

  • Provide essential supports to turnaround low-performing schools and keep them on a path of success

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