RICHMOND, VA – House Republican leaders presented Tuesday their K-12 Education Agenda for the 2014 session, calling on the General Assembly to continue investing in teachers, reform the Standards of Learning Assessments and increasing access to education by promoting blended learning and virtual schools. Lawmakers highlighted four specific pieces of legislation and promised to find common ground with the Governor, Democrats and key stakeholder groups.
“Virginia has some of the best schools and most devoted educators in the world. We are very fortunate for the teachers, administrators and local leaders who have dedicated their lives to serving our children,” said Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta), Chairman of the House Committee on Education. “But we live in a global, 21st century economy. If we are standing still, we are falling behind. Virginia must build on its success and continue to innovate and improve. Throughout the last six months, we have been working to build consensus on key issues like SOL reform, teacher compensation models and virtual schools. The agenda we have outlined today is the result of that progress and we look forward to working with Governor Terry McAuliffe, our Democratic colleagues in the House, members of the Senate and key stakeholder groups to improve Virginia’s education system.”
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) reiterated the continued commitment of Republicans in the General Assembly to invest in teachers and educators, both financially and professionally. Cox said Republicans would fully implement the Strategic Compensation program, work to improve the “Teach for America” program and work towards the development of “Teacher Career Ladders.”
“Teachers are at the heart of everything we want to do in K-12 education,” said Majority Leader Cox. “Throughout the 2014 session and in the years ahead, we will work to invest in our teachers both financially and professionally. We intend to fully implement the Strategic Compensation program created last year and we will work to develop “Teacher Career Ladders to help teachers grow professionally and personally without being forced to leave the classroom to find better career opportunities.”
Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudon) outlined House Bill 930, legislation that would reform Virginia’s Standards of Learning assessments by reducing the number of tests from 34 to 26 and creating SOL “Revision Committees” to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills.
“Virginia’s SOL tests have worked and continue to work well. They have fostered a sense of accountability, learning excellence, and academic rigor. But parents, teachers and educators from across the Commonwealth have demanded reforms,” said Delegate Greason. “This legislation would reduce the number of tests from 34 to 26 to stop over testing and work to improve the tests by re-emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving skills. This will promote greater flexibility for Virginia teachers and help ensure that our children have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Greason also outlined a “blended learning” model that would increase educational access for Virginia students by promoting statewide virtual classrooms.
“Blended learning offers a unique opportunity to provide greater access to course offerings and increase flexibility for parents and students. In a blended learning model, students will have the opportunity to combine “virtual classes” with traditional classes to create a personalized educational curriculum,” said Greason. “This legislation would promote blended learning by creating the “Virginia Virtual Board” and requiring the Board of Education to develop and publish standards and criteria for multidivisional online education providers. I look forward to working my colleagues to further develop blended learning in the Commonwealth.”