Ed­u­ca­tion bill goes back to com­mit­tee

Would in­crease teacher pro­ba­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

A sig­nif­i­cant piece of Gov. Bob Mcdon­nell’s 2012 ed­u­ca­tion agenda died at the hands of the Virginia Se­nate Thurs­day as the body voted 23-17 to send a bill that would make it eas­ier to fire new teach­ers and prin­ci­pals back to com­mit­tee, killing it for the year.

Teach­ers spend three years on pro­ba­tion­ary sta­tus and then are el­i­gi­ble for con­tin­u­ing con­tracts, more com­monly re­ferred to as ten­ure. The bill from Del­e­gate Richard P. Bell, Staunton Re­pub­li­can, would in­crease the pro­ba­tion­ary pe­riod to five years for new teach­ers and prin­ci­pals start­ing in the 2013-14 school year, af­ter which they would be el­i­gi­ble for three-year term con­tracts.

In a state­ment, Mr. Mcdon­nell said the Thurs­day vote was a “de­lay, not a de­feat,” and that his of­fice would con­tinue to strongly ad­vo­cate for the leg­is­la­tion in the fu­ture.

“In­creased ac­count­abil­ity in our public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and in gov­ern­ment in gen­eral is an idea whose time has come,” he said. “Virginia may have missed this op­por­tu­nity to­day, but it will be an op­por­tu­nity de­layed, not de­nied.”

Sen. Em­mett W. Hanger Jr., Au­gusta Re­pub­li­can, made the mo­tion to send it back to com­mit­tee, say­ing that no harm would be done be­cause the bill wasn’t to take ef­fect un­til July 2013 any­way.

But Sen. Mark D. Oben­shain, Har­rison­burg Re­pub­li­can, urged his col­leagues to take a straight up-or-down vote on the bill.

“Ninety-nine-plus per­cent of the teach­ers in the com­mon­wealth of Virginia do an out­stand­ing job,” he said. “[But] if you be­lieve that ev­ery teacher in Virginia is a good teacher, you’re wrong.”

Sen. Phillip P. Puck­ett, Rus­sell Demo­crat and a for­mer teacher and el­e­men­tary school prin­ci­pal, chas­tised Mr. Oben­shain’s use of the term “lemon” to de­scribe an in­ef­fec­tive teacher.

“I’m ap­palled at what I’ve heard on the floor of the Se­nate here,” he said. “It’s time we quit de­grad­ing the pro­fes­sion of the teacher.”

Kitty Boit­nott, pres­i­dent of the Virginia Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, called the vote “a vic­tory for public ed­u­ca­tors and stu­dents.”

“Virginia has much work to do to make sure the best teach­ers are in front of stu­dents across the state,” she said. “But this bill would have had the op­po­site ef­fect — it would have made it eas­ier to ar­bi­trar­ily fire teach­ers while do­ing lit­tle to en­hance the sup­port all teach­ers need to be suc­cess­ful.”

The Se­nate had al­ready killed its own ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion ear­lier in the year on a 20-18 vote. Two Re­pub­li­can sen­a­tors — Thomas K. Nor­ment Jr., James City Re­pub­li­can, and John C. Watkins, Powhatan Re­pub­li­can, did not vote then. Mr. Watkins is mar­ried to a teacher, and Mr. Nor­ment’s daugh­ter is a teacher.

JES­SICA CAR­PEN­TER/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The spring­like weather makes for a good dog day af­ter­noon Thurs­day as Kelly Knight gets a high-five from her bor­der col­lie, Mad­die, in Alexan­dria. Mad­die is her old­est dog. But at 10, she still plays and trains like a puppy, says Ms. Knight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.