The General Assembly Adds New Requirements for Teachers that Virginia Schools Do Not Have and Cannot Hire

By James C. Sherlock

A tip of the hat to Dick Sizemore-Hall for pointing out these bills.

I have written often on how Virginia is constantly are loading up teachers and schools with additional reports and requirements.

This General Assembly is trying to add new requirements for teachers that we do not have and have proven unable to hire.

The bills listed below were passed virtually unanimously in both houses of the General Assembly and are awaiting the Governor’s signature.

I recommend the Governor veto all of them.

HB 197 Through-year growth assessment system; BOE to seek & incorporate input & suggestions into system

What problem is the “through-year assessment system supposed to solve? Based on years of experience of false reporting of shortfalls, a through-year assessment system will not be worth the paper it will be printed on. Who exactly is going to read these and does that person have authority to act ?;

HB 319 / SB616 Virginia Literacy Act; early student literacy, evidence-based literacy instruction, etc.

Are the authors of this bill totally blind to the accelerating teacher shortages and ever smaller pipeline to replace increasing retirements?

“Makes several changes relating to early student literacy, including requiring

(i) each education preparation program offered by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education or alternative certification program that provides training for any individual seeking initial licensure with an endorsement in a certain area, including as a reading specialist, to demonstrate mastery of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction, as such terms are defined in the bill;

(ii) the literacy assessment required of individuals seeking initial teacher licensure with endorsements in certain areas to include a rigorous test of science-based reading research and evidence-based literacy instruction;

(iii) each local school board to establish a division-wide literacy plan;

(iv) each local school board to employ one reading specialist for each 550 students in kindergarten through grade three; and

(v) each local school board to provide a program of literacy instruction whereby, among other things,

(a) the program provides reading intervention services to students in kindergarten through grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on the Standards of Learning reading assessment or an early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department of Education;

(b) a reading specialist, in collaboration with the teacher of any student who receives such reading intervention services, develops, oversees implementation of, and monitors student progress on a student reading plan; and

(c) each student who receives such reading intervention services is assessed utilizing either the early literacy screener provided or approved by the Department or the grade-level reading Standards of Learning assessment again at the end of that school year ”.

This bill means well, but do the authors expect these changes to be implemented? By whom?

Remember that the underreporting of vacancies was proven to be widespread. Richmond Public Schools reported that it had no positions for reading specialists, and therefore no vacancies. And VDOE accepted that.

Perhaps the authors of the bill can tell us how the new requirements for reading specialists will be filled in these locations. The only advertised openings I checked on April 6 were for Richmond.

HB 741 Annual public elementary and secondary school safety audits; creation or review of school building. Requires schools, in preparing their annual safety audits, to include detailed and accurate floor plans for each building. Who, exactly, is going to actually use 2,140 detailed floor plans? And for what ?;

HB 1108 Public schools; instruction concerning gambling, report.

So we legalize gambling, and then try to clean up the negative effects in the public schools as a virtue signal.

Requires instruction concerning gambling and its addictive potential to be provided by the public schools as prescribed by the Board of Education .;

SB 724 School board; broadband, annual report.

Requires, beginning in the 2022 school year and in each school year thereafter through the 2025 school year, each school board to submit an annual report to the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development listing each student’s 9-1-1 address that does not have broadband access,

Dear God.

Bottom line. If we ever needed an illustration of how utterly clueless the General Assembly is and how disengaged are the teachers lobbies, all of these bills were passed virtually unanimously in both houses.

Never a good sign.

Veto them, Governor.

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