Over twenty local legislators, school administrators, and the new Deputy Secretary of Education Javaid Siddiqi, a VASSP member, attended an “Educator and Legislator” luncheon on Wednesday, December 13 in Roanoke organized by VASSP Board member Scott Habeeb. Delegate Greg Habeeb, Scott’s brother who helped VASSP host the luncheon, worked diligently to make sure that the event was well attended by local area members of the House and Senate. In addition to Delegate Habeeb, attendees included Senators Smith and Edwards, Delegate Poindexter and Delegates-elect Yost of Blacksburg, Head of Roanoke, and Rush of Salem. VASSP was represented by Board members Scott Habeeb, Richard Turner and Director of Government Relations Bet Neale.
Deputy Secretary Siddiqi spoke about the Governor’s plans for education reform, including local control of the school calendar, additional charter school and virtual school reform with new funding models, and increased emphasis on school management and flexibility at the local level.
The program centered on group discussions which included the Common Core and the funding implications if Virginia were to decide to become a part of the nationwide movement; VRS and how funding decisions by the General Assembly will affect educators; the state budget and rebenchmarking; and school discipline. Concerns regarding problematic bills driven by isolated incidents that seek to revise the discipline code and restrict administrative authority; unfunded mandates; and the importance of communication between local schools and local legislators were also reviewed. All attendees agreed that this was an excellent step toward bridging any communications gap and an important opportunity to share “what matters in Roanoke” to those who decide “what happens in Richmond.”
According to host and facilitator Scott Habeeb, this promises to develop into an annual event and that he hopes other VASSP members will emulate this activity.