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Feb 19

Crossover Day at the General Assembly

Today we have a post from one of the VASSP Board members, Dr. Mark Makovec, Principal, Northside Middle School, Norfolk Division.

As you are aware, VASSP is one of the premier principal organizations in the country because of

support from strong members like yourself. We are fortunate to have Bet Neale, who is a full-time staff

employee and a registered lobbyist at the Virginia General Assembly. It is important to note that Bet

attends each meeting of the Virginia Board of Education and she, along with members of the VASSP

Board of Directors, advocate strongly for middle and high school administrators. Currently, the General

Assembly is in full session and there are several bills that we, as advocates for education reform, must

be aware of as the General Assembly moves towards passing bills that can and will significantly impact

our profession. The General Assembly consists of men and women who may have no experience in

education and it is our duty to advocate for our profession because we are the experts at our craft and

our opinions regarding potential bills must be heard by our elected officials who vote on these bills.

The first bill, SB 368, seeks to add more authority for the Board of Education. In 2013, Governor

McDonnell proposed creating the Opportunity Education Institute (OEI) which would enable the state to

take over schools with chronic challenges. In 2014, OEI was ruled unconstitutional, however, the

Department of Education has been working to better target school improvement efforts and provide

individualized technical assistance, professional development, and support challenged schools. This bill

would require chronically and persistently failing school to create corrective actions steps and, if

deemed inadequate, an alternative action plan would be required by the Board of Education.

Additionally, this bill may potentially expand the board’s authority to accredit schools on a multi-year

basis according to the flexibility granted to the states in the new federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act

(ESSA). Schools that lack full accreditation would be allowed accreditation on a multi-year basis, but

only if the Board of Education approves the submitted action plan.

The second bill, SB 573, may impact how the Board of Education requires licensure regulation

for Career and Technical courses. This bill may allow the Board to amend its licensure regulations to

provide temporary, part-time teaching permits for qualified professionals, which would assist filling

teaching shortages in career and technical education. The premise of this bill would assist schools to get

more highly qualified professionals in key industries into classrooms throughout the Commonwealth.

This opportunity would potentially expose students to a variety of career pathways and connect them to

the workforce.

The third bill, SB 336 and HB 995, seeks to facilitate the redesign of high school by directing the

Board of Education to develop a “Profile of a Graduate” which will identify core skills and competencies

all high school graduates in Virginia should possess when they graduate. This bill would require the

Board of Education to update graduation requirements to provide flexibility in how students develop

and demonstrate the identified competencies as determined in the “Profile of a Graduate.” This may

include a student’s ability to earn credit through traditional courses, internships, externships, work

experience, credentialing programs, and both project based assignments and testing. The design of the

bill may create a more nuanced and practical pathway to college and career readiness, while

maintaining high expectations and rigor. The projected timeline for this bill may impact freshmen

entering the 2018-2019 school year.

The final bill, HB 894, related to the SOL Innovation Reform Committee Composition. This bill

would add more representation from the business community, a two-year higher education institution

and a 4 year high education institution to the SOL Innovation Reform Committee. The bill would also

stagger the terms of members of the committee to provide continuity in leadership.

It is imperative, we as educational leaders, take time to fully research and understand the

potential impact how current bills in the General Assembly may impact schools across the

Commonwealth of Virginia. We understand how taxing our profession is on a day-to-day basis, and our

intention is not to ask more from you as we are all stretched to our full capacity. We must have

foresight as leaders and continue our advocacy for our profession and this starts with each of us making

a concerted effort to meet with the delegates that represent our interests in the General Assembly.

Please take time to research the aforementioned bills and e-mail or contact your local representatives to

share your thoughts, ideas and concerns.