Virginia is an odd place, at least when it comes to politics. Among other things we have an election for Governor and much of the state legislature in this so-called “off year”.
And since the Governor can only serve one term, we get to choose between two largely unknown characters.
When it comes to education, the area in which I’m most interested and one where state policy carries far more weight than even the federal government, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the candidates.
Both claim they want to put more money into schools and recruit better teachers by putting salaries “on par with the national average” along with some of the usual incentives for those in “hard-to-staff subjects”.
They both like charter schools, in vague, non-specific ways, and are also pushing various approaches to merit pay schemes, none of which have any evidence that they actually, you know… work.
However, the absolute worst idea in the mediocre mix of educational improvement ideas being pushed by either side, comes from the Republican candidate, who has reached into the recycle bin and brought back the “65 percent solution“.
This is the overly simplistic concept that was popular several years ago requiring districts by law to spend at least 65% of their money on students in the classroom.
Which sounds like a wonderful idea until you read the fine print that excludes from that arbitrary number such wasteful spending as librarians (and their books), speech therapists, administrators, school busses, and pretty much anything else designed to support teachers in their work.
A plan which reinforces the traditional, and incredibly stupid, idea that teachers work in isolation in their classrooms and that their success depends on no one else outside of those four walls.