Sunday, October 11, 2015

New River Valley reps slam charter schools and vouchers - Roanoke Times: Blue Ridge Caucus

New River Valley reps slam charter schools and vouchers - Roanoke Times: Blue Ridge Caucus:

New River Valley reps slam charter schools and vouchers 

Speaking to a crowd braving the drizzly Saturday weather, Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) and Del. Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg) said in strong terms that Virginia needs to prioritize its public schools over alternative ideas like charter schools and vouchers.
"We have precious few resources for public education and when we take those resources from public education and give it to private schools for vouchers, we are going in the wrong direction," Edwards said during the event held outside the Giles County Courthouse.
Yost, a product of the Giles County Public Schools, said it was heartening to see many of his old teachers at the rally organized by the Giles Education Association and livestreamed by the Edwards' campaign through the appPeriscope.
Speaking of the Giles County community, Yost said, "We believe in public education because it is the means by which we help all children dream their dreams and achieve them — and I mean all children, from those who have abundant advantages to those for whom every day is a struggle."
The country has long subscribed to the idea of offering a great public education for all, Yost said, but has yet to completely fulfill that promise.
"Some are using the nation’s failure to achieve that goal as an excuse to abandon it," he said. "Vouchers, charter schools, virtual schools — that promise is under pressure and under assault every day."
The lawmakers' remarks come as the General Assembly looks ahead to a 2016 session where a constitutional amendment aimed at making it easier to open publicly subsidized charter schools will be considered.
The measure already passed a required first reading during the 2015 session. If it passes next year, it will be put to the voters as a referendum item for a final decision.
The proposal's first reading passed the GOP-led Senate on a straight party-line vote. It passed the GOP-dominated House of Delegates on more mixed lines with a final tally of 58-42. Eleven Republicans opposed it, including Yost.
The Giles County rally, dubbed "Put Kids First," centered on several worries that educators have about state aid for education, which has yet to rebound to pre-recession levels.
In September, a new state report highlighted the erosion of funding for K-12 programs over the past decade. Secretary of Education Anne Holton said the overview pointed to “a lot of canaries in the coal mine."
"We're almost to the breaking point in this state with the lack of funding," said Melissa Perdue, president of the Giles Education Association and a special education teacher at Narrows High School.

"We want people to call on all our legislators and bring it to their attention that we're not going to stand for this anymore," Perdue said in an interview Saturday. "We want the funding required to keep our schools the way they New River Valley reps slam charter schools and vouchers - Roanoke Times: Blue Ridge Caucus: