Governor's Education Plans Sail Through General Assembly in Virginia

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Gov. Bob McDonnell's education plan moved through both the senate and the house of delegates in Virginia on Monday, according to separate press releases issued by his office.

The A-F school grading system passed through the house of delegates, while the senate accepted the "Educator Fairness Act."

Following are some details regarding the passage of the two bills by the two legislative bodies.

* The grading system legislation passed on a vote of 54-40 and was sponsored by Del. Thomas A. "Tag" Greason, R-Loudoun, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

* Leesburg Today reported that Greason felt the scale would "allow parents and communities to see how their schools are performing in a simple and transparent way" and would promote greater accountability.

* The bill moves on to the senate for final approval.

* The Educator Fairness Act will bump the probationary period for teachers up from three to five years for the purposes of examining the appropriateness of awarding continued contract status. It passed unanimously with a vote of 40 to 0.

* According to one of the press releases, McDonnell said that he was "pleased by the bipartisan support in the house of delegates for our commonsense plan to bring more transparency and accountability to Virginia's public schools," McDonnell said, regarding the A-F grading legislation. "I encourage my friends in the senate to support this legislation that will provide a simpler way to understand a school's performance on the state's accreditation system."

* For the Educator Fairness Act legislation, McDonnell credited the support of "the VEA, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, the Virginia Association of School Boards, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and others," he said in the other press release.

* The governor's education plan was unveiled during his State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 8. According to the Washington Post, he made mention of both pieces of education legislation, as well as the use of a Teach For America program and advocating the creation of more public charter schools.

* Mark Lineburg, the Bristol, Va., superintendent, disagrees with the decision, stating that he doesn't feel the system provides accurate information by giving just one grade. "Even when you talk about assessing students today, you talk about multiple criteria to assess a child. The same [applies] with a school," according to WCYB.com.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington in Germantown, Md.

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