VEA

Senate Committee Kills Tebow Bill; House Fights For Life, Rule Of Law

On the same day a bold headline in the Richmond Times-Dispatch announced that the Virginia High School League had created a policy to allow "transgendered" students to play high school sports, the Senate Education and Health Committee killed legislation that would allow home school children access to those same sports — with the VHSL leading the opposition to the bill. VHSL, a pseudo-private organization that controls public high school sports in Virginia long has opposed equality for home school students. Hiding behind its own policies and definitions of "student enrollment" and "academic standards," it fights to keep students who legally home school and whose families pay taxes to support public schools from having an opportunity to try out for teams. It consistently implies that the academic record of home school students can't be trusted and that allowing them to participate would be "unfair" to public school students. The education establishment, from the VEA to the PTA to the School Boards Association, the Superintendents Association and more, fell into their annual lockstep of opposition with the VHSL in opposing the bill.

Testimony from several home school kids was poignant and compelling. Many talked about their participation in sports with their friends up to high school, where they are then blocked from continuing to play by an organization that is accountable to no one but itself.

Commonly called the "Tebow Bill," after Heisman Award winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who benefited from a similar law in Florida (and which 29 states have), HB 63 failed on a party line vote of 9-6. We are grateful to Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle) for his impassioned advocacy for his bill and for the home school community. We have no doubt that as public support for this policy of fairness continues to grow (see VCU poll), Delegate Bell and home school athletes across Virginia will see success!

Also yesterday, the House of Delegates adopted budget amendments introduced by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Shenandoah) to both the current state budget and the next state budget that prohibits the attorney general from using taxpayer funds in his challenge to the state constitution. We thank all of you who contacted your Delegate since last night! Delegates have definitely heard your voice.

The House also rejected attempts by Democrats to strip the budget of several pro-life amendments, including prohibiting Medicaid funds for abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood, and prevent any governor's efforts to undermine abortion center health and safety standards. Pro-abortion advocates, as usual, used misleading arguments in trying to defeat the amendments.

Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41, Springfield) alleged that the current abortion center safety standards have led to clinics closing, leaving "thousands of women" without access to "health care," such as cancer screenings. The problems with that argument are numerous. For example, one of the two that did so (NOVA Women's Healthcare in Fairfax), closed because of lease and financial issues, not because of the safety standards (see LifeSiteNews.com). If the $1 billion abortion industry really cared about women's health, it would spend some of its cash improving health and safety instead of $2 million getting its pick for governor elected.

But the misrepresentation by liberals didn't stop there. Topping the deception was Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44, Mount Vernon), who introduced a budget amendment that would have undermined conscience clause protections for faith-based child placement agencies, a law passed into law two years ago. He made the outrageous claim that the law allows faith-based adoption organizations to discriminate based on race! First, that is illegal under federal and state law to discriminate based on race and second, it is appalling to imply that faith-based organizations like those that serve families and orphans across Virginia are racist. It was an utterly insulting claim that should sicken every thinking Virginian.

Thankfully, the House didn't listen to Delegate Surovell (it usually doesn't) and overwhelmingly rejected his discriminatory amendment.

 

Despite Survey, Freedom Isn't Very Free For Virginia Parents

As we celebrated the birth of our nation over the weekend, a George Mason University Mercatus Center study pronounced Virginia the "ninth" freest state in the nation (Richmond Times-Dispatch). Taking into consideration tax rates, criminal law, education and several other factors, the study proclaimed Virginia the freest state in the South. Juxtaposed to this study is an editorial in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that announced 2011 as “the year of school choice.” According to The Journal, "No fewer than 13 states have enacted school choice legislation in 2011." From Florida to Maine to Utah, state legislatures have enacted policies that advance the cause of freedom for parents of school children.

The piece goes on to say:

School choice proponents may have had their biggest success in Indiana, where Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation that removes the charter cap, allows all universities to be charter authorizers, and creates a voucher program that enables about half the state's students to attend public or private schools.

Unfortunately, Virginia is not one of the states that has advanced in the area of education freedom. In a state where its politicians tout its business-friendly environment seemingly on a daily basis, parents are unfortunately left with little or no option when it comes to where they can send their children for their education. Unless financially able, most parents lack the freedom to choose the school that best meets their children's needs.

While many other states recognize the advantages of education freedom and its benefits for both families and our economy, Virginia remains stuck in the past, bowing to education elites and failing to live up to its perception of liberty. Unfortunately, this is not just a partisan issue, as some Republicans who wouldn't dare vote against anything that would hinder business in Virginia are all too happy to vote against freeing families from education purgatory, joining Democrats who have blocked even the most modest education freedom legislation for years. All seem fearful of the Virginia Education Association, the state chapter of the powerful National Education Association, which just endorsed President Obama in his 2012 presidential bid despite his Republican opponent not yet being chosen. The VEA leads the opposition to Virginia educational freedom and many elected officials in Virginia march in lock step with the VEA.

The Family Foundation has fought for education freedom since its early days and will continue to do so. Providing families with multiple education options for their children remains one of our highest priorities. Virginia’s ranking as a "free" state would be more believable if parents were actually free.

Sometimes Repetition Is Important

Maybe you've seen this before. If you haven't, you need to. If you have, it bears repeating. If there is any doubt about the intentions, the motives and the goals of the teachers union — the NEA and its Virginia affiliate the VEA — please listen to now former NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin the union's 2009 convention, where he explains his "most important point" — it's not about the merit of their positions, it's not about students, it's not even about "a vision for a great public school for every child." What's it about, then? Power and money, baby! He says so proudly. Power, money and politics. One might even say bullying. Education? "That's simply too high a price to pay" (ironic since they extract a huge price from taxpayers for failing schools, but that's another subject). For all the posturing, disingenuine care for improvement, faux concern for education, demagoguing the need for more tax dollars, and vilifying of those who dare to offer solutions which don't fit their status quo template, they sing a more revealing tune tune behind closed doors.

It's important to know with whom you deal in the public policy arena and to understand their true intentions, which they often obscure by reasonable sounding public rhetoric. Discerning their aims isn't usually difficult — the first howl against education choice and reform or for more taxes and spending for a failing system (a VEA broken record) gives it away. But it's nice to hear them arrogantly admit exactly what they're in it for — money and power — especially when they think no one is listening. That makes it a tad bit sweeter, though they seem not to suffer any shame from it. More and more, however, people are waking up to the real motivation (as they themselves state it) behind the teachers union and its bosses.

"It is not because the merits of our positions. It is not because we care about children. ... NEA is effective we because we have power !"

Quote Of The Day: Educrat Style

Today's Quote of the Day involves your humble blogger. The Conservative Caucus annual legislative agenda news conference had hardly ended when the entire educrat establishment rushed the House Briefing Room as if there was great anticipation for its reply news conference to Governor Bob McDonnell's education reform event yesterday. They were all there: The VEA, the superintendents association, the school board association, you name it. Two men each had two huge stacks of red folders. I politiely asked for one. The first man rejected me, saying they were for the media. I mentioned that he had about two dozen and there were only about eight media in the room. Didn't matter. I then told him, "I do the blog for The Family Foundation." He said if there were any extra I could get one.

So, I approached the other, equally well supplied man, for one:

Admin: May I have one of those?

Educrat: They are for the media.

Admin: I write the blog for The Family Foundation.

Educrat: They're for the Mainstream media! 

Oh! I get it! Any wonder the education establishment is viewed as isolated, statist and the only roadblock to reform of our failing education system? Publicly, their motto is, "It's about the children." In reality, it's all about them.

After I left and it was apparent they had an abundance of leftovers, they supplied our intern one. She taped the event, as well as the Conservative Caucus news conference. We hope to have both up tomorrow.

NEA/VEA Come Clean, Admit Real Purpose (Hint: It's Not About Education)

Sometimes we find things that our opposition says or does that are just too revealing not to expose to the public at large. For example, NARAL's fascinating linguistic gymnastics. Now, an astounding admission from the NEA/VEA that confirms what we, and other education reformers, have said for years: That the VEA is about educators, not education. Unlike how the VEA poses, it is not about anything resembling education, much less improving it. Quite simply, the VEA is a union. Not a think tank. Not a "for the children" organization. The VEA is a union and is about union membership. But don't take our word for it. Here is an admission straight from the mouth of the NEA's retiring chief counsel, in 2009:

And that brings me to my final, and most important point. Which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.

Pretty blatantly stated. But there it is: The NEA/VEA has one goal — the financial and professional betterment of its members, which in turn increases its power. If achievement of its goals requires advocacy for higher education standards or better classroom environments to achieve its union goal, it will pursue what it must. But don’t be fooled. Such advocacy is an inconvenient diversion to its accumulation of power and political goals.

To successfully dismantle the VEA's power in Virginia politics, we must defund it and alternative teacher organizations hold the key. One such alternative is Virginia Professional Educators, a professional organization that offers better insurance policies and other benefits without supporting liberal causes and candidates (click here for more information). As long as teachers continue to send dues to the VEA, it will continue to hire its 30-plus lobbyists in Richmond every year where they then proceed to undermine school choice efforts, push for higher taxes and, incredibly, involve itself in issues that have nothing to do with public education, such as promoting abortion and homosexual marriage. (Improving education? What's that?)

Self-assessments from our opposition are fascinating. Sometimes the honesty in their words is revealing. Take note of the deflated words delivered in an April 2010 speech by VEA President Kitty Boitnott:

This year, our [General Assembly] 'wins' are better measured by what we prevented from happening. ... the VEA has lost members in significant numbers this year due to a whole host of reasons . . . along with the external challenges of having few friends in high places, we have also been suffering from an internal malaise of sorts in many of our very own local affiliates. ... I do not believe that I overstate the case when I say that public education is under siege. It is being attacked at every corner, and there are those who would not only under fund public education . . . but they would dismantle public education in favor of alternative avenues. ...

By its own admission, teachers are wising up and leaving the VEA and, in turn, the VEA is feeling the heat. No longer is it advancing its leftist agenda at the expense of hard working, well meaning teachers. Instead, it's on the defensive. As we've said before, the VEA's worst nightmare — education freedom — is coming to Virginia. It's a matter of when, not if. The Family Foundation and our educational freedom allies are continuing to build a convincing case for school choice in Virginia. We will not relent until Virginia families are given the opportunity to freely choose the best educational option for their children.

DNC, Kaine Plagiarise From Americans For Prosperity?

One might say Tim Kaine wasn't exactly original as governor. Much of his agenda was a typically liberal one — new spending programs, increased overall spending, kow-towing to the special interests (the VEA and homosexual lobby come to mind), and those annual attempts to jack up our taxes. Now, he's proving to be just as unoriginal as chairman of the Democrat National Committee. In an attempt to drum up support for something that supposedly doesn't need it — it is now law and president says the people and businesses want it — Mr. Kaine and the DNC are spending millions of dollars in radio advertisements in targeted House districts around the country to prop up government-run health care against those running on its repeal. In fact, he's trying to scare people with a slogan in the ads: "Hands off my health care."

There's one small problem. It's a slogan used quite effectively by Americans For Prosperity, one of the most vocal and well organized opponents of President Obama's tax-it-all-and-spend-even-more policies. AFP created the "Hands Off My Health Care" campaign about a year ago and has a U.S. trade mark pending. Looks like Mr. Kaine, who tried to rob from Virginia taxpayers to pay for his grandiose spending plans, can't get out of the habit of taking from others.  

AFP, whose Virginia chapter did its fair share of bringing to the public's attention Mr.  Kaine's spend-and-deficit budgets as governor, sent the DNC a cease-and-desist letter on March 27 and asked for reply by April 2. According to Anita Kumar at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog, AFP plans a law suit if the DNC does not stop. It looks like we're headed to court. DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse arrogantly told Kumar:

This group used this slogan to try and deny millions of people access to affordable health care. We should have sued them for false advertising a long time ago.

So, the DNC is against free speech? Love that leftist tolerance.

AFP national President Tim Phillips rightfully claims that the DNC is creating confusion on the meaning of the AFP campaign and Virginia Director Ben Marchi explained (Washington Post Politics and Policy Blog) that AFP spent millions of dollars developing the brand. More to come on this, but we won't be surprised to find out soon that the new law also has nationalized all health care slogans as well. 

Virginia Budget: Is The Hour Near?

Based on dialogue on the House floor this afternoon, it's a 50-50 shot the budget will be agreed upon in time by conferees and printed for a vote tomorrow. It may go to Sunday. Even into next week. Which gives us time to renew our call for no new or additional fees or taxes. However, according to news reports this morning, there may be some backtracking on cutting the much over bloated education spending. Of course, the VEA is making wild claims about thousands of teachers losing their jobs. It must be noted, however, that spending on K-12 education in Virginia has increased 60 percent over the last 10 years while enrollment in public schools has increased only 7.2 percent. In 2004, the General Assembly infused public education with more than a billion dollars in additional funding — remember that tax increase? — with no reforms, and every two years the antiquated funding formula guarantees one billion dollars in extra taxpayer money into public education.

Interestingly, The Family Foundation participated in a poll last year with last year with renown Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and found that a majority of Virginians vastly underestimate the amount of money Virginia spends per pupil on public education. While most thought it was less than $6,000, in fact it is in excess of $11,000 per student!

During the last budget process, as everyone recognized that we were in a deep economic recession, the General Assembly passed a budget based on then-Governor Tim Kaine's projection of significant increases in revenue. Such a notion was rightly dismissed as foolish by some legislators, but a budget laden with spending based on the fictitious numbers passed anyway. Now, we're paying the price in the form of a $4 billion deficit because even though the revenue was projected, the spending was real — Virginia's budget is based on estimated revenue, not actual receipts. So when the real money never showed up . . .

Yet, we're being told by some, we have to pay for their mistakes. The only one who should pay a price in this situation are those who spent the money — not those who supplied it. Tell your delegates and senators not to increase taxes and "fees" in the budget, and to cut its excessive spending to the levels of real revenue.

If you know who they are, you can get their contact info here for delegates and here for senators. If you don’t know who your delegate and senator are, click here.

More Education Reform Snuffed Out In Senate

Earlier in the week we vividly showed how the obstinate the  education reform is to education reform, freedom and choice (see here). Also last week, in a much less publicized action, the Senate killed a modest bill, HB 76 — watered down from its original incarnation thanks to the educrat establishment, which amends, amends then kills then stomps the remains to death — patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton), a public school teacher. The vote in the Senate Education and Health Committee was 14-1, but its fate was sealed last week when an Ed and Health sub-committee voted 4-1 not to recommend it. The bill, had it become law, would begin the process of moving Virginia’s government-run schools toward spending 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom and to pare down central office administrative waste. However, sub-committee members Mamie Locke (D-2, Hampton) and Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) and every educrat organization in Virginia, such as the VEA and the Virginia School Boards Association, lambasted the bill as "undermining public education," despite the fact it would improve education by putting more money into instruction, as several states have with great success — and waste less on administrative overhead and bureaucracy. Only Senator Frank Ruff (R-15, Clarksville) spoke in favor of the bill and made a motion to save it, but could not get the necessary second, even from fellow Republican, and sub-committee chairman, Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), who is the chair by a quirk in Senate rules. Senator Ruff was the only dissenting vote in the full committee, as well.

Liberals like to call conservatives and negative, lacking in creativity and vision, always saying "no." We ask, when are liberals going to stop reflexively saying no to reform and what are their suggestions (except more money for the status quo)? Do they really think the current education system is working as is?

Poll: Vote For Your Favorite Campaign Gaffe, Uh, Moment

As Virginia's statewide campaign winds down, it's a time for reflection . . . what's been your favorite gaffe moment? There are many, to be sure. But we took the painstaking task of narrowing it down to seven. Creigh Deeds and Jody Wagner star in three each. All but one are below in video or audio form, and there's a link to our original report for the other. If you need a refresher, feel free to review them again — or watch/listen/read them again for old times sake and a good laugh. Or, if they are burned indelibly into your mind, vote straightaway. If you have another nominee, feel free to cast a write-in vote in our comments section. However, as tempting as it is, votes for the Deeds, Wagner or Shannon campaigns as a whole are not allowed. It's just not fair. Feel free to forward or share this link (especially to undecided voters).

 

The Deeds Dodge on taxes.

Marriage should be between a man and a woman except you shouldn't discriminate against same-sex couples.

I feel strongly both ways on the public option.

Steve Shannon's "Jeopardy!" moment. Where's Alex to make him answer?

Jody Wagner will have a lot of time to spend looking for the Lt. Governor's Mansion.

AUDIO CLIP (8:34): Jody Wagner's Rambling "Let's Be Clear" Interview With WRVA's Jimmy Barrett (click here).

BLOG POST: Jody Wagner Sticking With A VEA Accusation Against Bill Bolling That Even The VEA Retracted And Apologized For (read here).

Virginia News Stand: September 25, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  The Non-Endorsement Edition

The news is just as Doug Wilder likes it — about him. It's practically sucked out the news cycle any mention of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce endorsement of Bob McDonnell and the Virginia Fraternal of Police endorsement of the entire GOP ticket. The latter merited a picture and a sentence in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, buried in an article all about Our Doug's announcement. Even the New York Times wrote about it! Elsewhere, Jody Wagner continues to miscalculate and delegate races are heating up. Oh, and surprise! The VEA is attacking Bob McDonnell.

News:

Wilder on Deeds: That's not 'leadership' (Washington Times)

Wilder declines to endorse Deeds (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Former governor refrains from endorsing Deeds (Roanoke Times)

Wilder Declines to Endorse Anyone for Governor (Washington Post)

Governor candidates spar over economic plans (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Virginia Teachers Union Blasts McDonnell in TV Ads (Washington Post)

Bolling, Wagner clash over rules of debate, Va. Budget (Northern Virginia Daily)

Landes, Marrow Get Personal (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Lesinski criticizes Gilbert for failing to create more jobs (Northern Virginia Daily

GOP Takes Page From Democrats in N.Va. House Races (Washington Post)

National News:

Wilder Balks at Endorsing Deeds in Va. Race (New York Times The Caucus Blogs)

Analysis:

Two Groups of Women Help Put the Race Into Focus (Jennifer Agiesta and Sandhya Somashekhar/Washington Post)

Deeds: New Job = New Taxpayer

For perhaps the first time in this entire campaign, Creigh Deeds today stated very succinctly the primary difference in economic philosophy between statists (sometimes referred to as "liberals") and conservatives. At a meeting with business leaders in Richmond, Deeds said, "When you create a job, you create a taxpayer." Note that the first thing Deeds sees when someone gets a new job is an opportunity to TAX them! One can almost see him salivating at the potential for more money in the state coffers to spend to keep the unions and to the VEA neutralized. 

Conservatives, on the other hand, see a new job as an opportunity for someone to feed and take care of their families, a chance to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones, a step toward the American dream, a place to learn and develop a skill to be able to advance to even better employment opportunity, and a means to give philanthropically to their church and favorite charities to better society.

Finally, a clear statement from Mr. Deeds. Too bad for him that it reveals his true philosophy.

Virginia News Stand: September 22, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  AP Truth Squad, Distilling Pelosi

After yesterday's super-sized edition, much of today's news is of the national variety, including some spot-on commentary. Among the most eye-catching articles are one in which the Census Bureau reports on the change in lifestyle brought on by the recession, including the delay of marriage; a Muslim girl who ran away from her parents because she converted to Christianity will have her day in court; and Florida school officials are cleared in a case brought by the ACLU over a meal blessing.

Elsewhere, the AP comes out with its second fact check in two weeks disputing claims coming directly from President Obama's golden tongue (see first one here). Yes, Mr. President, your "reform" is a giant tax increase, even if you can get David Letterman to believe otherwise. The AP better watch itself if it keeps reporting the truth. Thomas Sowell writes about facing advantages and disadvantages in life by recounting his own upbringing. Truly inspirational and a must read.

Bryan Fischer examines the dirty connection between the National Education Association and ACORN. If you are a NEA/VEA member and still need a reason to leave this union, please take a look (or forward to someone who does)! Bobby Eberle, Jeremy Wiggins and Dick Morris take more looks at Obamacare, but from different angles (economic, medical and political); while David Limbaugh looks at the administration's ambition to ram through legislation so vastly opposite the desires of the country. Finally, Eberle and Wiggins distill Nancy Pelosi's crocodile tears.

News:

Bolling touts jobs during visit here (The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

New ads by Deeds use foe's '89 thesis (Roanoke Times)

New Deeds ad wagers big on McDonnell's 1989 thesis (The Daily Press)

Dems critique Hamilton's spot on money committee (The Daily Press)

National News:

Census: Recession had sweeping impact on US life (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Political asylum suggested as remedy for Rifqa (OneNewsNow.com)

Obama, Clinton fundraiser indicted (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Senators to start work on revised health care bill (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Senators urge Treasury to end bailout program (AP/GOPUSA.com)

School Officials Cleared in Mealtime Prayer Case (Tasha Easterling/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Analysis:

FACT CHECK: Coverage requirement enforced with tax (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

The Underdogs (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com

Obama At Odds With Majority But Undeterred (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)

NEA: Big time supporter of ACORN (Bryan Fischer/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Yes, Mr. President . . . It's a TAX! (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

The Cost of Government Health Care — For Doctors (Jeremy Wiggins/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Obamacare: Losing Everyone  (Dick Morris/GOPUSA.com)

Pelosi 'Frightened' by Free Speech (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Pelosi's Crocodile Tears (Jeremy Wiggins/Rightly Concerned Blog)

VEA: Choice Supporters Are Bigots

Our friends at the VEA must know in their hearts that the end is near. For ages they've been sticking to their deceptive yet effective message that school choice will "drain money from public schools," but as choice proponents have been proving the opposite is true (see Thomas Jefferson Institute), anti-choicers are starting to become unhinged. Enter VEA President Kitty Boitnott. Always good for an off the wall remark, Ms. Boitnott was recently quoted as saying concerning the school choice movement, "I really believe there is an underlying bigotry at the bottom of it all" (see Richmond Times-Dispatch).

Here we go again. If you support anything, anything that isn't government owned and operated, you must be a bigot, a racist, a "fill in the blank." So, if you favor allowing children to attend the school of their parent's choice, the one that fits their needs best, the one that provides the best opportunity for their success, well of course your a bigot. I mean come on, its sooooo obvious.

Note to Ms. Boitnott: The children that are benefiting from every school choice program in existence in the nation are from minority neighborhoods!!! The scholarship programs, the tax credits, the, dare I say, vouchers, that are available in other states and the District of Columbia are helping minority kids!!! 

I guess in Ms Boitnott's convoluted world, providing an opportunity for a child in an urban area that is not government owned and operated is bigotry. Of course, in a post-modern world where words have no absolute meaning, such a proclamation is widely accepted. Bigotry is now defined as providing opportunity.

No wonder the VEA can't seem to read. They simply don't know the real meaning of words.

The VEA: We Teach The Children, But We Still Need To Learn How To Read Ourselves

Oh, boy, this is too funny and the headline possibilities are endless. Feel free to suggest some on your own. This is what's gone down since Monday involving the Virginia Education Association Fund and the lieutenant governor's campaign: On Monday, the VEA Fund president, Kitty Boitnott, issued a statement announcing that organization's endorsement of Democrat Jody Wagner over Republican incumbent Bill Bolling. Big surprise there, huh? In the endorsement, Dr. Boitnott wrote this about the lieutenant governor's record when he was in the Virginia Senate:

Lieutenant Governor Bolling had a 49.66% VEA voting record in his ten regular sessions and two special sessions in the Senate of Virginia. Notable votes include:

• Voted against paying Virginia's teachers the national average salary (2004 - SB 1285)

Uhhh, small problem with that . . . as in, there was no SB 1285 in 2004. There was a SB 1285 in 2005, however, to raise teacher salaries, but . . .

Ooooops! . . .

 

Bolling voted . . .

For it!

 

You know, it's not real hard to read the vote totals of a General Assembly vote — especially when it was adopted unanimously! You see, they have one line for all the "Yeas" and another for all the "Neas" (see here.) When all names are listed in the "Yeas" and none are listed in the "Neas," it's pretty difficult to misread that.

Yesterday, the VEA Fund issued a correction by e-mail, but it's not posted on its Web site (unless it's in an out of the way place), while the original news release with the incorrect information remains. But, like all good comedies, there's more. The desperate Wagner campaign immediately jumped on the news release and began touting the incorrect information. As of a few minutes ago the VEA Fund's release, with the incorrect claim about Lieutenant Governor Bolling's record, remained prominently in place on Wagner's home pagewithout a correction.

We already knew Wagner couldn't do math — as Governor Tim Kaine's finance secretary she consistently missed revenue projections that have led to a cumulative budget deficit of around $6 billion, and required several in-year cuts. (As of yesterday, per the governor himself, another $1.5 billion in cuts will be announced in September, and the fiscal year only began on July 1.) But now, apparently, her campaign is proving equally inept at fact checking because it's being led by an organization for teachers that can't read.

VEA/NEA Endorse Policy Contrary To Virginia Law At The Expense Of Education

Yesterday,we reported on the VEA's proud go-along at the NEA national convention endorsing same-sex marriage (see here). Instead of concetrating on issues that matter to teachers and improving education, the VEA has endorsed advocating a radical left-wing policy in contradiction of the Virginia Constitution and statutory law. The president of the VEA, Dr. Kitty J. Boitnott, responded to our post with a long comment on the thread stating that our take on the VEA/NEA position wasn't exactly what the convention meant with its lock-step adoption of the radical homosexual agenda. She goes on about "social justice." What any of this has to do with teaching clearly is beyond most parents' concerns for their children's education. 

Not only is the  homosexual marriage resolution contrary to the views of a majority of Virginians, she did not answer our concern about whether the VEA, with this policy position, now will encourage its member teachers to ignore the new traditional marriage guidelines to the Family Life Education curriculum. A true conflict of interest now is on the record.

Adopting a radical agenda contrary to Virginia law. Wasting time on matters completely non-germane to education. A significant conflict of interest.

We report. You decide. Below is the resolution:

NEA Representative Assembly New Business Items (NBIs) NEW BUSINESS ITEM E ADOPTED

"Resolutions B-13 (Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identification Discrimination) and I-13 (Civil Rights) set forth NEA's opposition to the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples and its belief that such couples should have the same legal rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples. The Legislative Program is in accord: NEA supports "obtaining, preserving, and strengthening basic civil and human rights under law," and specifically calls for "passage of a federal statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression." Section IV(b). In implementation of the foregoing policies, the Representative Assembly adopts the following action plan with regard to same-sex couples:

1. NEA will support its affiliates seeking to enact state legislation that guarantees to same-sex couples the right to enter into a legally recognized relationship pursuant to which they have the same rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples, including, without limitation, rights and benefits with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.

2. NEA does not believe that a single term must be used to designate this legally recognized "equal treatment" relationship, and recommends that each state decide for itself whether "marriage," "civil union," "domestic partnership," or some other term is most appropriate based upon the cultural, social, and religious values of its citizenry.

3. NEA will support its affiliates in opposing state constitutional and/or statutory provisions that could have the effect of prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions from providing the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as are provided to similarly-situated heterosexual couples.

4. NEA will take such actions as may be appropriate to support efforts to (a) repeal any federal legislation and/or regulations that discriminate against same-sex couples, and (b) enact federal legislation and/or regulations that treat same-sex couples and similarly-situated heterosexual couples equally with regard to social security, health care, taxation, and other federal rights and benefits.

5. NEA recognizes that the term "marriage" has religious connotations and that same-sex marriages may not be compatible with the beliefs, values, and/or practices of certain religions. Because of its support for the separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NEA supports the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.

The Executive Committee will monitor the implementation of this New Business Item, and keep NEA affiliates informed of actions taken to achieve its objectives."

Told You So: VEA-NEA Say "I Do" To Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, we posted a commentary that related a breaking national news story to a previous post about two Family Life Education reforms we helped get passed and signed into law, and which took effect July 1. The national news story concerned the National Education Association convention, at which it and its member chapters — including the Virginia Education Association — considered adopting a resolution supporting homosexual marriage. Now, it's official. The NEA and its VEA subsidiary voted to endorse the resolution supporting national and state efforts to enact same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partner benefits. But the VEA Web site omits this resolution, while listing issues such as "reducing the dropout rates, properly managing charter schools, controlling infectious diseases in schools, providing resources for boosting teacher quality, protecting substitute teachers, and expanding opportunities for preschool education."

Apparently, when VEA delegation leaders were asked to support a resolution that took no position on same-sex marriage issues, they refused, saying that teachers in Virginia know the issues the VEA is involved with and support them.

Aside from this obnoxious presumption, this means every public school teacher member of the VEA is sending his or her dues money to efforts to bring homosexual-sex marriage to our nation and commonwealth, despite the clear decisions by the General Assembly and Virginia voters to protect marriage. (Remember, homosexual marriage is banned in Virginia by statute and the constitution.)

This latest NEA/VEA absurdity follows a long history of extremist liberal advocacy. Last fall the VEA made news when it urged teachers to participate in "Obama Blue Day" and encouraged voting age students to vote for Barack Obama for president.

It doesn't have to be this way. Pro-family teachers in Virginia have an alternative professional organization that provides similar resources as the VEA — some even better  — without the embarrassing political baggage:

Virginia Professional Educators offers better insurance policies and other benefits without supporting liberal causes and candidates. In fact, it doesn't support causes or candidates.

So, if you are a teacher who feels forced, coerced or peer-pressured to join or remain a member of the VEA, we urge you to look into VPE.

The only way to ensure the VEA is unsuccessful is to defund it. In several states, alternative teacher organizations affiliated with VPE have more members than those states' NEA branches.

As long as teachers continue to send dues to the VEA, they will hire the 40-plus lobbyists they send to Richmond every General Assembly session (not to mention allied organizations and educrat establishment), where they undermine school choice efforts, push for higher taxes, and seek to promote abortion and destroy marriage, rather than advocate for better education.

If you are a teacher, we implore you to either demand the VEA cease to advocate for these extreme causes or join an alternative organization. Last week we wrote this about the impending vote to support homosexual marriage at the NEA convention:

Not exactly what most parents expect from teachers. Most expect them to educate their children. Not indoctrinate them. If, in fact, the NEA goes on record supporting this nonsense, we will watch with a very interested eye as to how its Virginia members treat the new FLE marriage curriculum and whether the administration enforces its implementation as the law now says.

As you can see, we've already started. We hope all fair minded teachers will do the same.

Talk About Timing

Yesterday we commented on the Family Life Education reforms passed by the General Assembly last winter and signed into law by Governor Tim Kaine. Of course, there are some out there who, undoubtedly, don't think these new laws are necessary. To those, I provide this: The National Education Association, at its national convention in San Diego this week, is considering a resolution offering its full support of homosexual "marriage."

Educator and conservative activist Jeralee Smith, co-founder of the National Education Association Conservative Educators Caucus,  told OneNewsNow.com today:

. . . that the executive council has approved language that will throw the full support of the NEA behind same-gender marriage, homosexual adoption, and other issues surrounding the homosexual agenda.

Not exactly what most parents expect from teachers. Most expect them to educate their children. Not indoctrinate them. If, in fact, the NEA goes on record supporting this nonsense, we will watch with a very interested eye as to how its Virginia members treat the new FLE marriage curriculum and whether the  administration enforces its implementation as the law now says.

The NEA and its Virginia affiliate, the VEA, are among the biggest roadblocks to public education reform. They and their educrat allies would rather public education completely fail than change; indoctrinate rather than teach. Remember what we wrote yesterday — these FLE improvements are more reforms than laws. Now you know why they were needed.

Virginia News Stand: April 30, 2009

We are back with the News Stand sooner than we thought, here at the close of business for April, where we learn, from the Wall Street Journal, that despite hundreds of billions of tax dollars spent since 1971, high school test scores have barely budged! How does that make you feel? Yet, the Commonwealth and the VEA seek more of your hard-earned money. In other news, one has to wonder that if the gubernatorial campaign is like this now, what will it be like come September? October? We've seen the Dem candidates try to out-pander themselves to the teachers union and to homosexual activists. Now, according the Washington Post, it's really getting nasty. On another burgeoning campaign issue, House Speaker Bill Howell and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell have whacked the ball back in Governor Kaine's court, requesting the governor's boss take the federal strings off before we accept it.

Meanwhile, the Democrat infighting is all to McDonnell's early advantage, as a news SurveyUSA poll has him leading all three Dems. However, looking at the survey's universe, it doesn't look to be the best indicator. Contrary to some other polling, it has Terry McAuliffe way out in front in the Democrat primary. Still, it confirms what the more reputable Rasmussen poll a few weeks ago suggests: That McDonnell is making inroads among the general electorate.

Finally, in a commentary, Bobby Eberle documents a disturbing aspect of the Obama administration, something of which we've commented upon: Namely, his disdain for anyone — politicians, media or now, what with the Tea Parties, common folk — who disagree with him. More than disdain, it's demonization . . . or worse. Now that the "hate crimes" bill has passed the House, we're one step closer to being arrested for expressing our opinions.

News:

McDonnell, Howell say Congress should remove strings from stimulus money (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Democrats vying for governor debate over gun issues, energy (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Tone Toughens in Race for Governor (Washington Post)

New poll puts McDonnell ahead of 3 Democratic candidates for governor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Teachers Offer Lessons in Race for Governor (Washington Post)

Surrogates Sling Mud in Va. Race (Washington Post)

Democrat seeking Bedford House seat (Lynchburg News & Advance

Virginia seeks education funding (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

House bill offers gays greater protection (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Few Gains Are Seen in High School Test (Wall Street Journal)

Commentary:

Obama Marks 100 Days in Office . . . By Mocking Concerned Americans!(Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Legislative Abstinence

Year after year, school choice bills are introduced in the General Assembly, only to die in the Senate Finance Committee. Earlier this year, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) lost a Pennsylvania-style school choice bill in the committee's typical fashion, for lack of a motion. The reason the bill never gets a motion is because, if no one makes a motion, no one is held accountable for a vote.  This morning, Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) had his school choice bill, HB 1965, defeated, but the story of defeat is a bit different this year.

After much debate, for only the third time in the last decade of our educational freedom efforts, a bill of this nature received motions to report (pass)! However, Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), seldom one to miss a chance at killing a Family Foundation bill, offered a substitute motion to PBI the bill (pass by indefinitely/kill). The substitute motion was seconded and the bill eventually died a slow and painful death. There were 10 votes to PBI, 4 votes against the PBI, 1 abstention, and 1 no vote. 

You may ask — what's the difference between an "abstention" and a "no" vote. A "no" vote usually applies when a legislator is not present to vote on the bill or, in the case of the Senate, does not leave a proxy (or a note on how he wishes to vote). An abstention may be used when there is a conflict of interest (for example, some legislators abstain on voting on certain issues because their spouse is a lobbyist, thus creating a conflict of interest), but is most often used when a legislator does not want to be held accountable for his or her vote. 

Most significantly, an abstention is a fabulous way of avoiding a lower rating on The Family Foundation Action's Report Card. Knowing that school choice is a top priority for TFF, it is a reasonable guess to think that this vote might affect one's score on that document. Since The Family Foundation Action must rate legislators objectively and strictly according to public record, it can not dock a legislator for an abstention because one's reasons may be a legitimate conflict of interest. 

Given the inability of The Family Foundation Action's Report Card to capture this game in print, The Family Foundation has sought new ways to hold legislators accountable. The Family Foundation has begun an initiative to get committee hearings of interest on tape.

Today for whatever reason, Senator Emmett Hanger (R-24, Augusta) didn't feel compelled to vote for educational freedom, or vote at all for that matter.  Watch the video below and see for yourself!

 

I wonder how the 74 percent of people in Senator Hanger's region who, according to a Mason Dixon poll, support this legislation, will feel about his decision to hide abstention?

Interview With Omarh Rajah: Part 3

Today, we conclude our three part interview with Chesterfield County School Board member Omarh Rajah, the first teacher elected from that county's Motoaca District, and the first African-American ever elected to that school board. An unabashed conservative in his first run for public office, he defeated the incumbent chairman in a year that saw many conservatives lose in Virginia. Part one can be found here and part two here. In this last part, Mr. Rajah discusses what he thinks of the VEA from his perspective as a teacher, candidate and school board member; what it takes to begin the needed road to reform in public education, student behavior and the role of parents, among other things. We think a high profile local official's views is a fresh take for a blog which deals primarily with state issues, so we hope you enjoy this series and let us know your thoughts. familyfoundation.org: Who or what is the biggest roadblock to education reform in Virginia at the state and local levels?

Omarh Rajah: It's hard to pinpoint the biggest obstacle to reform, but, if I had to boil it down to one thing, I would have to say it's really trying to break the mindset people get into when they're totally used to doing things one way, and become naturally resistant to change. That takes a lot of communication and reaching out.

familyfoundation.org: Some see the Virginia Education Association as a roadblock and not a partner in providing needed reforms. What is your experience with the teachers union and how have they reacted to your proposals?

Omarh Rajah: To be honest, the VEA's Chesterfield affiliate endorsed my opponent in last year's election. That actually surprised and disappointed me, since I was running to become the first teacher ever elected to the School Board from the Matoaca District. Since the election, however, they've mostly been quiet on the issues we've dealt with. In spite of their endorsement of my opponent, I got a lot of support during the campaign from teachers who knew I would always be there to support them in terms of making sure they're paid what they deserve and get the health, retirement, and benefits packages they're entitled to. I suppose, when the next election comes along, we'll find out what their leadership thinks of the progress we've made and the reforms we're implemented.

familyfoundation.org: School districts feel compelled to define dress codes now. Is there a general need to bring decorum back to schools, whether it's dress codes or basic deportment?

Omarh Rajah: I don't feel dress codes are a contentious issue in Chesterfield right now. At least, based on the questions I get from constituents about different issues, that's just not an issue that comes up very often. I've not seen a need to change the dress code policies in our schools, but, yes, I do believe that a need does exist to bring the basic deportment you're talking about back to our schools, in terms of how people interact with each other. For example, one thing I want to do is make sure our schools start using consistent standards in identifying and reporting incidents of bullying against students, so that we'll be able to fully crack down on this kind of behavior, and I believe school administrators need to enforce demands that our teachers be treated with respect by students and by parents, and, most of all, parents need to enforce demands that their children behave appropriately at school towards teachers and towards other students.

familyfoundation.org: What is the role of parents in a child's education, from homework to behavior? How do we get parents more involved and consistently involved? Are parents not allowed to be involved? In some cases, school districts don't even notify parents of certain clubs and activities their children participate in.

Omarh Rajah: Parents are the most important people in a child's education. I think most of us grew up in families where we were expected to put forth the maximum effort possible in our school work, and to behave appropriately at school, and where that expectation was enforced when necessary. The problem is not that parents are not allowed to be involved, it's that a lot of parents don't know how to become involved. That's why I've held more community meetings in my first six months in office than my predecessor had during his entire four year term — I want parents, and everyone, to be involved. Even parents who work outside the home and can't necessarily be involved in PTA or who can't volunteer at their child's school during the day have an important role to play, just by checking their child's homework, talking to them about their behavior at school and enforcing what behavior is acceptable and what isn't, and going to back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences. As to your last point, it seems to me that it's basic common sense that parents have a right to know from the school what extracurricular activities are offered and which ones their child is participating in.

familyfoundation.org: One reform that's interesting in urban areas is separating boys and girls. Should more districts pursue this option as part of offering more choice?

Omarh Rajah: I currently don't see any need to pursue that option in Chesterfield. However, in other school systems where there is good reason to believe that would be productive in terms of improving the academic performance and/or behavior of some students, it's an option they should definitely pursue, and I don't believe the state government should try to stand in the way.

familyfoundation.org: Mr. Rajah, thanks for sparing some moments from your valuable time and for your thoughtful answers. We hope you'll come back and visit with us again. Best of continued success with the Chesterfield School Board.