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Compass Point
A Weekly Collection of Data, Articles and Insights from the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute
A project of the Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Public Policy
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Recent State and Local Education News
10 years after Virginia Tech massacre, education goes on at Norris Hall
Richmond Times-Dispatch
April 12, 2017

It was in Room 206 of Norris Hall that G.V. Loganathan died.

Loganathan, an engineering professor, was teaching a class on advanced hydrology when he was shot to death, one of 32 who died in the April 16, 2007, massacre at Virginia Tech.

Norris Hall, built in 1960 to house the university’s engineering program, holds painful and nightmarish memories for many.

That it’s still in use, that professors still go there every day to teach students, however, is a victory to many close to that day’s tragedy.

“Norris Hall is not mine alone,” Uma Loganathan, the daughter of G.V. Loganathan, said recently. “Norris Hall started off as a building where people go to learn, where staff go to teach. Faculty, staff, students all combined to pursue education.

Tom Perriello makes 'P-14' education pitch in Montclair
Free-Lance Star
February 28, 2017

For the most part, Virginia’s elected officials and educators have lined up to support Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in his bid to win the Democratic nomination in the state’s governor’s race — but there are two major exceptions in Prince William County.

School board Chairman Ryan Sawyers and board member Justin Wilk of the Potomac District are currently the only elected officials in the state to endorse former Congressman Tom Perriello’s primary challenge to Northam, bucking the preference of every single statewide Democratic official and even Virginia’s teachers’ union.

The pair invited the gubernatorial hopeful to Montclair for a town hall session April 14 to give him an audience with about a hundred Democrats in the crucial swing county.

U.S. Department of Education launches civil rights investigation of Richmond Public Schools
Richmond Times-Dispatch
April 17, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a civil rights investigation of Richmond Public Schools at the request of advocacy groups that say the district’s disciplinary policies discriminate against black students and students with disabilities.

The decision was announced Monday by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, which received word last week that the federal agency’s Office for Civil Rights would investigate concerns the organizations submitted in August.

Among them: Black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times more likely than white students without disabilities to receive short-term suspensions, Virginia Department of Education data from the 2014-15 academic year show.
Recent National Education News
How School Choice Turns Education Into a Commodity
The Atlantic (in depth)
April 17, 2017

Buoyed by Donald Trump’s championing of a voucher system—and cheered on by his education secretary Betsy DeVos—Arizona just passed one of the country's most thoroughgoing policies in favor of so-called “school of choice.” The legislation signed by Governor Doug Ducey allows students who withdraw from the public system to use their share of state funding for private school, homeschooling, or online education.

Making educational funding “portable” is part of a much wider political movement that began in the 1970s—known to scholars as neoliberalism—which views the creation of markets as necessary for the existence of individual liberty. In the neoliberal view, if your public institutions and spaces don’t resemble markets, with a range of consumer options, then you aren’t really free. The goal of neoliberalism is thereby to rollback the state, privatize public services, or (as in the case of vouchers) engineer forms of consumer choice and market discipline in the public sector.

New federal civil rights enforcement hire has previously said she's against affirmative action

LA Times
April 15, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this week announced a key hire in civil rights enforcement: attorney Candice E. Jackson, who will serve as deputy assistant secretary in the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.

Until DeVos picks someone to lead the Office for Civil Rights — and that person is confirmed by the Senate — Jackson is in charge of an office that the Obama administration used to protect transgender students, investigate and punish universities that mishandled sexual assault cases, and to make sure students with disabilities had their needs met.

The nonprofit investigative newsroom ProPublica reviewed Jackson's limited track record and writings and found that, as a calculus student at Stanford University in the 1990s, Jackson wrote that she felt she had been excluded because she was white. She also wrote an op-ed for a conservative publication at Stanford about her objections to affirmative action.

The impact of the 2017 General Assembly

In this special issue of Compass Point, we feature a significant excerpt from David Blount's final  General Assembly Update for the 2017 session.  In the final update, he catalogs all K-12 legislation passed during the session across the issue areas of Finance; Governance and Operations; Instruction, Assessment and Accountability; Personnel; School Environment; Students; FOIA considerations; and Miscellaneous. We hope you'll read the excerpt and then jump over to the full issue!

That said, if you've been reading Compass Point for a while, you know we love a quick visualization when we can get one (or two).  So we've taken David's write up and made it into a word cloud that is weighted based on how often a word shows up.  To not have it dominate the entire graphic, we had to supress the word "school" which shows up 64 times, and "requires" which shows up 21 times.  

K-12 Education legislation in one image
K-12 Education legislation in one image

We also were curious to see who sponsored the most successful legislation in this area in 2017.   This second visual shows Del. Greason and Del. LeMunyon leading the way (with each credited with six bills passed).

Sponsors of successful 2017 K-12 Legislation
Sponsors of successful 2017 K-12 Legislation

We hope you enjoy the legislation wrap-up.  We'll be back at the beginning of May with a university graduation themed issue that will also include Dr. Vacca's look ahead at what legal issues will likely be in the education news next school year. 

Have a great rest of April!

General Assembly Update - Final Legislation recap

Excerpted from the April 14th General Assemby K-12 Education Update, written by David Blount.  Read the full update on our website.


HB 1529 (Ward) and SB 1018 (Barker) extend the sunset date for the sales tax holiday periods for school supplies and clothing, Energy Star and WaterSense products, and hurricane preparedness products to July 1, 2022.

HB 2014 (Keam) changes from even-numbered years to odd-numbered years the biennial review of the Standards of Quality (SOQ) that is required of the Board of Education (BOE).

Governance and Operations
HB 1392 (Lingamfelter) authorizes a school security officer to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties under certain conditions, including that the local school board solicits input from the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality regarding the officer’s qualifications, and that it has granted the officer authority to carry a firearm.

HB 1490 (R.G. Marshall) allows a school board member who cannot serve due to being called for military service to submit suggested replacements to the school board, and if the school board does not appoint someone from the submitted list, it must notify the member of its rationale.

HB 1552 (Bulova) requires school boards to notify students and their parents of the availability of career and technical education programs and to provide annual notice on their website of the opportunity for students to obtain a nationally-recognized career readiness certificate.

HB 2141 (LeMunyon) expands a current requirement that the BOE include in its annual report, a listing of each report required to be submitted by school divisions, and explanations and recommendations about the need to retain the report or reduce/eliminate such report.

HB 2174 (Murphy) requires school boards to annually report to the public the actual pupil/teacher ratios in middle school and high school, by school, for the current school year; currently, such a report is required only for elementary schools.

HB 2218 (Miyares) permits the BOE to communicate any Board finding about the rationale for a local school board's denial of a charter school application, based on documentation submitted by the school board, in any school division in which at least half of the schools receive federal Title I funding.

HB 2431 (Bulova) permits school boards to locate and operate retail fee-based electric vehicle charging stations on school property; use of such stations during the school day is restricted to school employees, students and visitors.

SB 1239 (Hanger) among other things, exempts local government and school division-run recreational and after-school type programs from state licensure requirements, but does require them to register with and report to the state and to comply with basic health and safety requirements.

SB 1359 (McPike) requires local school boards to develop and implement a plan to test and remediate potable water from sources identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as high priority for testing; schools built before 1986 shall be given priority.


Instruction, Assessment and Accountability

HB 1414 (Austin) requires the Department of Education (DOE) to collaborate with existing educational advisory committees that advise on student assessments, to review multipart Standards of Learning (SOL) test questions and determine the feasibility of awarding students partial credit for correct answers on one or more parts. It prohibits the DOE from taking action on awarding partial credit prior to the next General Assembly session. A report is due by November 1.

HB 1708 (Filler-Corn) requires the BOE to consider for inclusion in the Standards of Accreditation (SOA) student outcome measures the number of industry certification credentials obtained by high school students, but to not do so prior to the 2018 General Assembly.

HB 1981 (Greason) directs the development of regulations for "School Divisions of Innovation,” applicable to school divisions that have developed a plan of innovation to improve student learning; educational performance; and college, career, and citizenship readiness skills in their schools. Upon approval by the BOE, the school division would be exempt from selected regulatory and statutory provisions and be permitted to adopt alternative policies for school administrators, teachers and staff to meet the diverse needs of students.

HB 1982 (Greason) allows the BOE, in establishing graduation requirements, to award verified units of credit for a satisfactory score, as determined by the Board, on the Preliminary ACT or Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

HB 2257 (Filler-Corn) permits any high school family life education (FLE) curriculum offered by a local school division to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the law and meaning of consent.



Read the full update on our website.