General Assembly's Impact on Education

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) -- Thursday marked day two of the General Assembly and issues like Medicaid and mental health reform are receiving a lot of attention statewide.

Other tough decisions, such as education reform, also face lawmakers in Richmond this session.

"It took a lot of bold action the last few years with a lot of leadership to make significant reforms in our public education system," said Gov. Bob McDonnell Wednesday night during his State of the Commonwealth Address.

McDonnell addressed a joint session Wednesday night and spent some time discussing his reforms to education, "we have taken a tough love, zero tolerance approach to chronically under-performing schools. This is the civil rights issue of our time."

During this session, education is taking the back seat to Medicaid and the state's mental health system, but it is still a topic delegates know needs work.

"I've heard a lot of people say we need to reform the SOLs. So far I have not seen one solid plan for doing that," said Delegate Dickie Bell.

Virginia's legislative information system website lists all the bills that have been filed so far for this session. Many are about education, but most of those are dealing with smaller, more bite-sized issues, such as requiring approved textbooks to call the Sea of Japan, the East Sea.

"Reform sounds great. And I think we do need to work on it, but it is a complicated system that we use. It would be expensive to try to try to unravel it," said Bell.

However, McDonnell, even as he leaves office, is pushing for education initiatives to remain a priority.

"The time for excuses is over. It's now time for excellence for all our students," said McDonnell.

One education bill that already is getting attention is House Bill 66, which would require every public school across the commonwealth to have a school resource officer.


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