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VEA 2016 Legislative Agenda


The VEA Board of Directors has approved the following legislative agenda for the 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly

Support for challenged schools

  • VEA supports the expansion of teacher residency programs to serve all challenged schools – urban, suburban, and rural.
  • VEA supports expanding access to the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), and increasing preschool services for economically-disadvantaged children.

“Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card” found that only 34 percent of Virginia’s low-income students are enrolled in early childhood education programs, compared to 56 percent of students who are not from low-income families. Voices for Virginia’s Children noted that “disadvantaged young children are less likely to participate in preschool and most at-risk of not being prepared for school.”

K-12 Funding

  • VEA supports restoring school funding to at least pre-recessionary levels.

Salary

  • VEA proposes significantly closing the 12-percent gap between the Virginia teacher average salary and the national teacher average salary. Legislative leaders should create a clear policy for offering the compensation needed to attract and retain high-quality teachers.

VRS Funding

  • VEA supports continued movement toward meeting the VRS Board of Trustees certified contribution rate; 89.84 percent of that rate will be contributed for each of the next two years.

Implementation of statewide health insurance option

  • VEA supports a statewide insurance option for local school divisions.

This option could save $44 to $66 million annually (JLARC estimate), which could be used for needed school funding. The Commonwealth would have much greater leverage in rate negotiations with insurance providers than any one of the 132 individual school divisions. 

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

  • VEA supports reinstating the NBPTS state candidate subsidy program.

Teachers seeking National Board Certification must pay a $75 application fee each year of the process and a $475 assessment fee for each of four assessment components. Virginia used to provide grants to teachers to help defray these costs, but these funds are no longer available.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and SOL Testing

  • VEA will initiate legislation saying a student’s IEP dictates if he or she should not take SOL test(s), and that the student’s non-participation will not count against the school’s accreditation.

Fair Dismissal

  • VEA will initiate legislation to bring needed fairness to teacher dismissal procedures.

School boards should be allowed to use a three-person panel chaired by a hearing officer who is not an active or retired school board employee or related to one. Also, hearing officers should be appointed in a public meeting, after an opportunity for public comment.

Teacher Personnel Records

  • VEA will initiate legislation to clarify that teacher performance evaluations are not a public record.

Education vs. Incarceration

  • VEA will support sensible sentencing reform, which could reduce incarceration costs and free up funding for schools.

Virginia currently ranks 41st in preK-12 state per-pupil funding; however, our state ranks 14th in state corrections expenditures. This is not an accurate reflection of our priorities. 

Medicaid Expansion

  • VEA supports closing the health insurance coverage gap to free up funds for public education.

Transparent, Bipartisan Redistricting Process

  • VEA supports the legislative agenda of OneVirginia2021 to provide a fair and open redistricting process.

Oppose further erosion of VRS pension benefits

  • VEA opposes any further reduction of employee VRS benefits.

In recent sessions, some current educators saw their retirement benefits cut, and future employees face substantial reductions.

Oppose HB324

  • VEA opposes HB324, which would create the Virginia Virtual School and take the power to govern virtual education away from local school boards.

Oppose SJ256

  • VEA opposes SJ256, which grants the authority to approve charter schools to the Virginia Board of Education rather than local school boards

 


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