VEA supports McDonnell’s Educator Fairness Act

bob-mcdonnell-linksThe Virginia Education Association today announced its support for the “Educator Fairness Act,” a key component of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s K-12 education reform agenda for the 2013 General Assembly session.

The Educator Fairness Act extends the probationary window for teachers from 3 to 5 years, to allow for a more thoughtful examination of teachers being awarded continuing contract status, and to allow for an extended period of mentoring for new teachers. It also provides for a definition of incompetence to include one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations and defines the relationship between the evaluation and the contract. This act will streamline the grievance procedure and will allow for an expedited decision to inform the teacher of the final outcome.

The VEA joins the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, the Virginia Association of School Boards, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and others who have already announced support for the measure.

Speaking about the VEA’s support for the Educator Fairness Act, McDonnell said, “We have met with representatives from the VEA for several months now to get their input as we put together these important education reforms, and I thank them for their thoughtful and helpful partnership. Representing more than 60,000 teachers across the Commonwealth, this endorsement is a significant step towards putting in place reforms to ensure that all students in Virginia are afforded the opportunity for an excellent education. I look forward to continuing to work with teachers and other education officials as we move forward in the legislative process. With the passage of these measures, we will give Virginia teachers the first state-supported pay raise in 5 years, and will be better able to recruit, retain and reward excellent teachers. ”

VEA President Meg Gruber said, “In consultation with our members across the state, we’ve been working with Governor McDonnell, Secretary of Education Laura Fornash, and others to improve the teacher dismissal process so that it is efficient and fair. We have agreed with the Governor on several proposed changes to existing law we believe meets this goal. We believe the VEA’s involvement in the process has resulted in an improved bill, and Virginia’s teachers have had a voice in laws that directly affect their profession.”

“I thank the VEA and Governor McDonnell’s office for working together on this important legislation,” said Delegate Dickie Bell. “The broad coalition of support will be important to ensuring its passage, and improving educational opportunities for Virginia students.”

In working with the VEA, the Educator Fairness Act now makes the probationary period for new teachers “from 3 up to 5 years,” giving administrators flexibility to offer a continuing contract to exceptional teachers sooner. The bill will clearly define that a teacher has 5 business days (7 total days) to request a hearing before the school board. It clarifies that in the case of a grievance over termination, the hearing officer

·         must be impartial

·         must be knowledgeable in public education and education law and be capable of presiding over an administrative hearing

·         cannot be a member or employee of the school board

·         and will make a recommendation based on the evidence presented.

The Educator Fairness Act will be sponsored by Delegate Dickie Bell in the House, and Senator Tommy Norment in the Senate.

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