Public Comments for: HB113 - Public school buses; displaying decals with "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" on buses.
Last Name: LMiller Locality: Fairfax County

I support displaying decals with "In God We Trust" and "One Nation Under God" on buses. If we remove God, we give power to grant and take away rights to people and the Government , and that would be a tyrannical disaster. Our wise and selfless founding fathers understood the necessity of putting us all equal under God, of all having rights bestowed to us from God, and to put our Government in the limited role of ensuring those rights are protected and to further limit it by design of three equal branches and a republic representative format. This is why our nation is the most free and prosperous and good. It us our sovereign duty to keep it this way for our future generations.

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Rice Locality: Ashburn

HB1032: How will this process be kept free from politics or personal biases of the people put on boards to select what books to keep? I don't believe it's possible to do so. A gentle reminder that groups that ban books tend to not be remembered as "the good guys". This would be no different. HB1036: The suggestion of this bill should be enough to get the delegate ejected from our state government. The lack of critical thinking skills required to still not believe we should be mitigating the ongoing pandemic is stunning. HB1068: This is a thinly veiled attempt to stop the teaching of important moments in our nations history that paint one particular set of political beliefs in a bad light. This bill is written in bad faith and should not be passed. HB1126: This is a purposeful attempt to turn the public against the "academics" (teachers) similar to what has been seen in countries as fascism was on the rise. Parents did not go to college for childhood development or education, and being a parent does not inherently make you more qualified to decide what materials children should learn. If parents want that level of control, there are private schools that they can spend the money on to receive it. Otherwise, they should leave it to the professionals. HB113: I honestly can't believe this needs to be said. The separation of church and state originated in this state. This should not need to be explained to government officials. Putting anything on government property relating to any religion should not be considered.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Loudoun

This is unnecessary and serves to separate people more. We do not have an established religion in our country; we don't need to proclaim "our trust in god", especially when people do not believe in the same god. I would be disappointed in my school system spending money on this.

Last Name: Wittkowski Locality: Fairfax City

I strongly oppose this bill as it violates the separation of church and state that is fundamental to our constitution. Vote no on this bill.

Last Name: Walsh Locality: Norfolk

I oppose HB113 due to the jurisprudential concept of separation of church and state. As a teacher and a parent, I don’t want my children being exposed to beliefs that we as a family do not hold. With the amount of abuse and misconduct that continues to be exposed in the Catholic Church, as well as other religions, the sayings that involve god do not apply to all citizens. We cannot put a blanket statement on all people if we want to treat all people equally.

Last Name: Ehrlich Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax County

I strongly oppose HB113 and anyone who supports the Constitution and constitutional rights should be as well. What happened to the separation of Church and State? Religion has no place being taught or advertised in our schools or on our school buses. This would also show a message of ONE religion as being the right or dominant one. There are many religions practiced by our students and staff, and that is a part of what diversity is. Displaying these messages on buses shows students and families when students are picked up for school each morning that their religion and culture does not matter to Virginia's public school system, because only one religion is acceptable. I strongly encourage you to vote no on this bill.

Last Name: Monma Locality: Ashburn

Millions of Americans don't believe in a god, and forcing their children to grow up reading "In God We Trust" or "One Nation Under God" on their bus every day seems like cult-like behavior with its aggressive proselytizing and manipulative and authoritarian mind control. The role of schools is to educate children, not brainwash them toward a particular religion. Let religiously-affiliated private schools put those stickers on their buses if they'd like. There is no need for that in a free society where government cannot tell its citizens what to believe. Imagine if a non-Christian had to submit to the sticker "In Jesus We Trust". If we need stickers on our buses, let's return to our traditional, inclusive, American motto: "E Pluribus Unum."

Last Name: Dixon Locality: Burke

Please vote no on this bill. Placing these messages on school property will only serve as a reminder of divisions that exist between peoples and further divide students into Us vs Them sects. Instead, we should be looking for ways to unify the student body and remind everyone that, regardless of race, sex, color, creed, orientation, etc, we are all Americans.

Last Name: Quiroga Locality: Rockingham County

This bill quite frankly violates the first amendment of the constitution. Religion has no place in Virginia Public Schools and quite frankly, putting "in god we trust" on our buses will impose religion onto students.

Last Name: Argodale Locality: Chantilly

Separation of church and state. I would not want my child to ride these busses. Please stop imposing your views on others and parent your own kids.

Last Name: Corcelius Organization: FEA-VEA-NEA Locality: Fairfax

Greetings legislators, I ask that you oppose HB113 as it Violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Our public schools must have a separation of church and state. This bill favors monotheistic Abrahamic religions over polytheistic religions and those who are atheists— this creates and an issue of inequality and marginalization of these groups. Allow me to share a little history lesson: "One Nation Under God" comes from the Pledge of Allegiance. The original Pledge was written by Christian socialist minister and writer, Francis Bellamy. "One Nation Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, on Flag Day of 1954 when Congress passed the law. The pledge used to be recited with the right hand in the “Bellamy Salute" (named after Francis Bellamy) with the right hand resting first outward from the chest, then the arm extending out from the body. Once Hitler came to power in Europe, Americans were concerned that this position of the arm and hand resembled the Nazi or Fascist salute and in schools today we put our right hand over heart only. This change was made in 1942 when Congress established the current practice of reciting the pledge with the right hand over the heart. As an educator, I've seen students and staff who opt-out of reciting the pledge for religious and political reasons. Many students cannot simply opt-out of riding the bus to school. As we provide a public service to our communities, we must ensure that we are being equitable and inclusive. Making such changes will be oppressive and marginalizing to students, staff, and our communities within the Commonwealth of Virginia. In closing, if any such changes should be made to our bus fleets, it should be by switching from diesel to electric. This bill is not financially sound and the money that would be spent on putting on these decals can be used elsewhere. Thank you for reading my comment. I look forward to you opposing HB113.

Last Name: Patwardhan Locality: Fairfax County

The first amendment of the US Constitution stipulates freedom of religion, and the separation of church and state is part and parcel of how things are supposed to work in the USA. Mandating "in God we trust" and "one nation under God" to be put on buses of public schools runs completely counter to that.

Last Name: Andrews Locality: Barboursville

I ask that you categorically oppose HB113 as it Violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution. It establishes a government preference for some religions over others or none. Our public schools exist to educate ALL students and that means students of all religions and no religion. Please oppose or amend HB344. While extending the agency of instituting charter schools to the state at large MAY be a desirable outcome (I remain unconvinced on this but openminded), the ability of local citizens to appeal the decision of the Board should not be removed. Citizens deserve the opportunity to revisit the determination of the Board and to additional information to strengthen their case for or against. Please oppose HB37. Local school boards should retain the decision power re the necessity of SROs. In general I am against the eroding of local control of schools. And in this specific case locations do exist where the presence of LEO’s in the educational setting will be more disrupting than helpful. I ask that you categorically oppose HB4. Schools should absolutely retain the right to determine when misdemeanors committed while in school should be reported to law enforcement. Crimes rising above the misdemeanor level should be required reporting. Please oppose HB8 Schools need fewer guns not more in them.

Last Name: Choate Locality: Henrico

Please oppose HB113. Our public schools exist to educate ALL students and that means students of all religions and no religion. Students should not begin or end their day feeling marginalized by the institution that exists to serve them all. Please oppose or amend HB344. While extending the agency of instituting charter schools to the state at large may be a desirable outcome, the opportunity to appeal the decision of the Board should not be removed. Citizens deserve the opportunity to revisit the determination of the Board and to present a strengthened case. Please oppose HB37. Local school boards should retain the purview to determine if school resource officers are installed in their school based on their citizenry, cultural norms, and level of disruption in the school environment. Many environments exist where the presence of law enforcement in the educational setting will be more disrupting than helpful. Please oppose HB4. Schools should retain the purview to determine when misdemeanors committed while in school should be reported to law enforcement. Crimes are committed in many settings that do not result in the involvement of law enforcement. Staff and teachers who are attempting to build relationships of trust and nurturing with students should not be mandated into law enforcement referrals in instances where pursuing such discipline responses as restorative practices could result in positive and meaningful growth without funneling students into an already robust school to prison pipeline.

Last Name: Karabinos Locality: Chesterfield

HB113 - Violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution as it establishes a government preference for monotheistic religions, implying an exclusion of atheism and polytheism. HB37 Excessive contact between LEO and Students can cause common discipline issues to be escalated in to criminal issues that could potentially ruin a child's life (School to prison pipeline) HB59 like HB4 criminalizes the same school discipline issues that we may have committed as kids ourselves. This will further feed the school to prison pipeline and given the statistics regarding incarceration and prosecution in the Commonwealth, I suspect that this would impact minority communities more than white communities HB8 Looks like another attempt to introduce "Armed Mentors" into Virginia schools. Schools need fewer guns not more in them.

End of Comments