Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 20 the Finance committee. No questions asked. These were powerful allocations of funds back to each district. The Senate Finance committee would guarantee the amendments passage if you voted for the budget. If not, the request would mysteriously disappear during the budget conference. In his fourth year in the Senate Senator Onico Barker requested $40,000 for the Danville Textile and Tobacco Museum in his hometown. In presenting the amendment to the Committee he said it was the only time he had ever made a request. Ed Willey said, “That’s not true. Onico, you requested $20,000 for the same museum two years ago. Do you mind telling the Committee what happened to that amendment?” Senator Barker said it had been funded by the Senate but didn’t survive the budget conference. “Onico,” Willey said, “why do you think that happened?” Barker replied, “I think because I voted against final passage of the budget.” Willey asked, “Onico what do you think you will do this year?” Senator Barker replied, “I will vote for the budget this year.” Senator Barker got his $40,000 for the Museum. The” Taxation” subcommittee was Willey’s third weapon for controlling legislation. The subcommittee had no listed members and no schedule for meetings, nor did it have any staff assigned to support it. As Chairman Willey had the right to assign legislation to subcommittees and name the members of the subcommittee. Everyone understood that if Willey sent a piece of legislation to the Taxation subcommittee it was a death sentence without a public vote, because all legislation assigned to the subcommittee would die once the deadline for committee action passed, per the procedural rules. One year, as the last committee meeting on the calendar was concluding, Senator Elmo Cross fromHanover, playfully challenged Willey as he sought to end the meeting. “But Mr. Chairman, we have heard reports from all the other subcommittees, but we haven’t heard from the Taxation subcommittee.” Playing along Willey said, “Thank you Senator Cross, I almost forgot, the Taxation subcommittee met at some point last week, and those of you on the subcommittee and you know who you are, killed all the legislation before the committee.” With Senate procedure now complied with the Committee adjourned. To be continued! William H. Leighty is now retired from his many years of public service. He uses much of his artful talent for detail on his hobby of birdwatching. New Book Traces Personal Account of Decades of Virginia Leadership from page 19 Parking available adjacent to building Phone: 804-644-1702 FAX: 804-644-1703 E-Mail: Web Site: Teacher Shortages: we need the will to end them By JEFF DAVIS Virginia’s public school divisions are facing historic challenges in teacher recruitment and retention. As teacher educators, working in close collaboration with our partners in the schools, we have seen these challenges mount for years. Recruiting future teachers for college and university teacher preparation programs is challenging: enrollments in teacher preparation programs across the country have declined steadily over the past decade. Tuition costs have increased steadily, while teacher pay has not kept pace. The current job market provides candidates with more options than ever before. Over the past several years, while attempting to address the teacher shortage, our elected officials created several alternate routes to becoming a teacher—usually by reducing entry requirements. Reducing the preparation requirements needed to be employed as a teacher (and to remain as a teacher) removed some of the barriers to entry, but this meant less-prepared candidates entered the profession… and being less prepared, many have left in ever-shorter periods of time. Strong teacher preparation yields much greater teacher retention in Virginia than the alternate routes. Simply put, the focus on entry points missed the opportunity to strengthen effective teaching while increasing the number of teachers who would leave the profession within the first three to five years. A teacher shortage this severe means many more inexperienced and unprepared teachers are staffingVirginia classrooms. It also means that thousands of positions remain acrossVirginia’s school divisions. It means higher recruiting costs for local school divisions—money that could have been spent on curriculum, instruction, and mental health initiatives. It means that it will be increasingly difficult to address academic gaps that persist with groups of students. Virginia has both a higher cost of living and a more highly educated workforce than most states. That means that pay for most professionals with a college education—but not teachers, unfortunately - is higher than most states, resulting in a large and growing wage gap. It makes the choice to enter (or remain) in education a steep financial challenge. We want to bring an end Virginia’s severe teacher shortage and maintain our standing as one of the best states in the nation for PreK-12 public education. To do that, we need to 1) remove financial barriers to professional teacher preparation, and 2) focus on teacher retention. We could continue to tinker around the edges of this crisis or we could look at innovative models in other states. Oklahoma recently passed game-changing legislation that provides scholarships for education majors for each year of their undergraduate degree, the largest of which is earned during the final year of preparation as students (unable to work) complete their student teaching requirement. For each of their first five years as full-time teachers, they are eligible to receive a $4,000 stipend, totaling $20,000 over those first five years. These are critical years. Data indicates that teachers who remain in the profession during these crucial years often remain in the profession after that point. That said, our teacher attrition rate in Virginia serves as a reminder that even keeping teachers for five years would be a needed improvement. Our delegates and senators have a historic opportunity to turn the tide in Virginia, by prioritizing the teacher workforce. Let’s strive for excellence, not mediocrity, not losing ground, not losing our status as one of the best states in the country for PreK-12 education. We should all insist that Virginia invest in its future by making a real investment in Virginia’s workforce- the outstanding Virginians and educators who care for and teach our children every day. Jeff Davis is the director of Clinical Practice and Partnerships Teacher Education Office, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education.V V