The snow is still on the ground, but it's really beginning to heat up here in Richmond. Senators have been calling on the Governor to take a stand and offer some leadership. Meanwhile, the Governor finally unveiled his "education initiatives," but he has kept it strangely quiet that he has plans to cut education funding. The article that details the Governor's plan is entitled "McDonnell Privately Proposes Children’s Insurance, Education Cuts" which can be found at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/02/mcdonnell_cuts_emerge_slowly_p.html.
Another article which lays out what is happening in Richmond is entitled "Va. Senate Democrats in a Bind on Balancing State Budget," and can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021104789.html.
These articles and several others like them get to the point that the General Assembly members are fast running out of time--and options--regarding what to do about the gaping hole in Virginia's budget for the next biennium. While they stick steadfast to their pledge to one another and the public not to raise taxes in the midst of a recession, they have also failed to offer one concrete suggestion as to what should be cut, and the cliff toward which they are careening will present itself next Sunday afternoon when the budget must be made public.
In the meantime, those who understand only too well what is about to happen--those in the education field including school board members, superintendents, and VEA leaders and employees--walk around the capital grounds with grim expressions and a very real sense of dread and doom. We understand only too well that unless something drastic happens soon, our school children are about to be robbed of their educations and their future prospects for successful lives. Instead of being the best place to bring a business and the best place to raise a child, manufacturers and corporate presidents will run away from Virginia as quickly as possible because our schools will no longer enjoy the ranking of being one of the best in the nation.
Ironically, it was just this week that the College Board recognized Virginia for increasing Advanced Placement test scores more than any other state over the past five years. (The full article can be found at http://hamptonroads.com/2010/02/virginia-ranks-third-advanced-placement-test-rankings.)
The Roanoke Times seems to have summed it up fairly well with the commentary, "McDonnell Wanted to Lead; Now's the Time" which can be found at http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/radmacher/wb/236365.
The VEA is ratcheting up its activity, too, in hopes of getting the public to pay attention to what is happening before it's too late. Starting this week, we will be paying for eight billboards around the Richmond Metro area. The site that we are using to promote our campaign is http://supportvirginiaschools.com/. We will be using a banner campaign on numerous web sites hoping to catch the eye of Virginia parents and citizens who care about the future of Virginia and its children.
If you haven't already gone to that site and clicked on it to communicate with the Governor and your Senator and Delegate, please do that right away. The only effective strategy that we have at our disposal is to put pressure on our "leaders" letting them know that decimating our schools is not the job we sent them to Richmond to do.
We need leaders now. Please join me in letting our legislators know that shortchanging our children on their futures and the quality of their education is not an option.
Until next time.