Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) is getting a rep as one of the wittiest guys around the capitol. Tonight, in the House Education Subcommittee on Teachers and Administration, he had a classic. This evening the sub-committee heard Delegate Scott Lingamfelter's (R-31, Prince William) bill (HB 1844) to make it easier for localities to create charter schools by allowing to sunset some of the restrictive language in the statute that created charter schools in Virginia (which critics say was passed not to create charter schools, given the difficulty in creating them and the paucity of them).
Typically, Pat Lacey, a veteran and effective lobbyist for the educrat establishment, which uses its political muscle to block any and every education reform — and even bills that sometimes only remotely affect education — was sitting in the GAB's 4 West conference room's front row waiting to punce on the bill, even after Delegate Lingamfelter amended some of the its language.
After Lingamfelter finished his presentation, Delegate Gilbert opened it up for public comment by asking:
"Would Delegate Lacey like to speak in opposition now?"
The room, knowing Lacey's power may be as great or greater than many lawmakers, errupted in laughter.
However, things are only funny if there's a bit of truth in them, and Delegate Gilbert's keen sense of humor makes a huge point. Powerful special interests funded by huge war chests don't make for a pretty legislative process. But Gilbert wasn't done.
Also speaking in opposition was a man who identified himself as from an organization representing teachers. When he finished his statement, Gilbert pointedly asked, to gain some transparency:
"Do you represent any teachers other than those who work for public schools?"
The man meekly admitted, "No." There. "Teachers unions" don't speak for all teachers and, often enough, not even the ones in their own union. Delegate Gilbert's question should be rote for any education committee member to anyone who claims to represent "teachers," especially those whose mission isn't to educate, but to block reform.
By the way, the bill passed 7-0. Good news for its immediate future. We'll see how it fares down its legislative path. No doubt, the educrats are waiting somewhere along the way, waiting for "Delegate" Lacey and allies to kill it off.