Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winding up 2009--Looking ahead to 2010

Since my last post, I have been on the go and have traveled much of the state. I started out the first week of December in Abingdon and attended the Legislative Dinner that was hosted by leaders in Districts 1 and 2. Representatives from the House of Delegates and the Senate attended, and a great dinner and dialogue was the result of the evening. VEA leaders used the opportunity to share the VEA's Legislative Agenda for 2010, and legislators each got a turn to share their predictions about how difficult the 2010 General Assembly session is shaping up to be. At that time no one knew what Governor Kaine's budget proposal might entail, but everyone was well aware that the budget of needs far exceeds the budget of available revenue unless some major overhauls are prescribed. It was a great evening of lively discussion, but the gloomy projections could not help but cast something of a pall over an otherwise delightful get-together.

I left the scenic mountain region of far Southwest Virginia on Tuesday morning and traveled I-81, I-77, and Route 58 to Danville where I met with leaders from the Southside of Virginia for the last of the Pre-Legislative Dinners.

On the following morning, after having returned to Richmond from Danville the night before, I traveled with Rob Jones to the Capital and met with members of the Virginia League of Women Voters. This active group of civic-minded women from all over the Commonwealth were holding their annual pre-legislative luncheon. At this event, representatives from a variety of state agencies and associations are invited to share their organizations' legislative agendas. Groups representing the environment, certain state agencies, women's and children's advocacy groups, the PTA, and several others along with the VEA were able to share the highlights from their various 2010 legislative agendas.

I left Richmond that afternoon to travel to Williamsburg where I attended the 2009 annual Virginia ASCD Conference. I heard a number of wonderful speakers and came away from that conference with a brain full of new ideas and thoughts regarding the future of public education and the momentous transition that we are all facing at this particular point in history. I believe it is safe to say that we are on the brink of major change in the way we conduct public education in this country. It is an exciting--if perplexing and somewhat anxiety producing time--to be involved in public education.

On Saturday of that week, I attended the VEA Fund for Children and Public Education Executive Committee meeting--and all of that took place in just one week!

The following week was no less busy. I traveled to Chesapeake on Monday and met (along with representatives from the Virginia Education Coalition) with Governor-elect McDonnell's Education Transition Team Co-Chairs (Dr. Bill Bosher and Delegate Chris Saxman) in Richmond on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I traveled to Washington D. C. for December's Super Week. I attended a number of meetings from Wednesday through Friday, and then on Saturday morning, I took off for New York City for a weekend of fun and pre-Christmas celebration.

Last week (starting December 14), after returning to Washington, D. C. from New York, I attended the December Arlington Education Association meeting, and spent the rest of the week conducting numerous meetings and clearing up end-of-the year activities in anticipation of being away from the office over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

One of the most important activities of last week was that I was witness to one of the last official duties of Governor Tim Kaine as he presented his 2011-2012 budget to the "money committees" of the General Assembly. For the details of the proposed budget, you might want to check our web site: http://www.veanea.org.

As we wind up this year, it is impossible not to be cognizant of the extremely difficult time that we are all facing. The majority in the House of Delegates has already declared the Governor's proposed revenue raising part of the budget "dead on arrival." Given that that is their attitude, things could get even rougher for our members and the students we teach, and, frankly, the cuts proposed to K-12 are already concerning enough.

I don't want to depress us all right here at the holidays with projections of doom and gloom, so I will simply say that the one thing I know for sure is that we will be working as hard as we can to make the most noise we can trying to protect the interests of our members and our students. Indeed, we are the only educator advocacy group who will. If anyone has ever questioned the wisdom of educators being engaged in politics, I believe they are about to learn via a crash course in reality why we need to be active in the political arena.

I'll sign off on that thought.

Happy Holidays to all.

Until next year.