Public Comments for: HB294 - Education improvement scholarship tax credit; eligible students in need of safer school environment.
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
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
Vouchers should not be granted in any form to families withdrawing their students from public schools. Withdrawing the funds makes public schools unable to continue quality education. Instead, parents should work with the state and their local schools to change the curriculum. If their objections focus around religious beliefs, curriculum should not be changed at all as the public school should not recognize any religion. Vouchers and school choice do not allow students to have equal access to IEP resources as many are excused from following these. Additionally, not all families have access to an alternate school from public schools, making it even more difficult to state that these educational savings accounts will actually help those needing "safer" schools. Don't defund the public schools.
I am a wife, mother, educator and resident of the city of Suffolk and I oppose these bills (including HB788, which was not on the list) because k-12 vouchers do not improve student outcomes. They take much needed money from public education. Virginia needs to put more money into public education, not less. We are current ranked 41st for per student spending. Our teacher salaries are nowhere near where they should be and we are currently suffering from a teacher shortage. There are numerous studies (Brookings Institute, National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Virginia) that show vouchers do not improve student outcomes. Investing in public schools improves outcomes, graduation and post secondary enrollment. Vote no on these bills. Thank you. Mrs. D. Waddell
Please oppose HB4. There is already a well documented school to prison pipeline. The educational setting offers the opportunity for counseling, remediation and restorative justice. Educators should continue to have the purview to address behaviors encountered in schools in these ways before committing students to legal processes for misdemeanor offenses. Please support HB128. At a time when we desperately need more educators, particularly from diverse backgrounds who can connect with a wide variety of demographics, the establishment of this scholarship program just makes good sense! Please support HB236. At a time when public education is under assault and educators are leaving the profession at an increasing rate, this flexibility to offer educators an extension of the time needed to complete recertification just makes good sense! Please support HB246 Please support HB294. Students who have suffered the types of events specified in this bill have legitimate concerns remaining in the environment where this occurred and should be able to secure assistance in attending another school in their district that provides a more secure environment. Please oppose HB363. While I support the concept of establishing an alternative method of using merit and performance to determine which employees may be retained and which dismissed when such events as RIF occur, I do not think it wise to prohibit the current practice until a suitable alternative has been determined. Please oppose HB433. Historically, the legislature legislating on the specifics of educational delivery and practice have resulted in more complication and obstacles. The specifics of curricula and testing should be left to those involved in the delivery of education. Please support HB485 Please support HB526. This is just the right thing to do for those who have come to reside in VA as a result of being the victim of human trafficking! Please support HB539. This is a minor and simple thing that institutions of higher ed can do to be fully trans parent to those individuals making application who have a criminal background!! Please support HB582. Today's college students need more assistance than ever in achieving a higher education, and making sure that they are aware of and have access to SNAP benefits that they may be entitled to is just a good idea!!
HB-294. Yes: Choices and the funding for parents of students having disabilities to determine and access the best potential education and setting unique to their children's needs. No: Income exclusions; Age exclusions (for public school age students)
Support for HB294 (With Modifications) - If a public school division refuses to, or cannot properly support any student with disabilities (***regardless of family income***), the parent(s)/guardian(s) should be able to use the tax dollars allocated to the public school division for the student towards a more appropriate education of the parent(s)/guardian(s) choice in any way and in any format the parent(s)/guardian(s) deem appropriate for their child. Ex. 1 A school division (Chesterfield County, particularly) refuses repeatedly to recognize physicians' signed Health Plans and Doctors' letters of recommended medical support assistance, that an incontinent student who cannot clean themselves requires actual toileting assistance, resulting in the child sitting day after day in soiled diapers/pull-ups and/or clothing, and being, or potentially being bullied repeatedly for a disability obviously beyond the child's control. Ex. 2 - A school division (Chesterfield County, again) repeatedly suspends a child due to behaviors as manifestations of disabilities, causing the child to miss legally prescribed educational seat time, and burdening the parent(s)/guardian(s) with loss of income and other significant sacrifices because the county refuses to accommodate children with special needs. ***Parent choice for enrolled students with disabilities regardless of age or income using tax dollars allocated to the home school division for proper educational settings and services, to be provided in full to the parent(s)/guardian(s) to use !*** Some of the public school divisions may treat students with disabilities (and their families) far better in terms of education and necessary supports and services, (instead of the deny and delay mantra, and hiring high-cost attorneys to fight parents in Due Process, etc.) and more appropriately if they realized their funding for NOT doing so will be cut off in lieu of parent choice due to the unique needs and requirements of their student-age child(ren). Thank you for reading. Especially throughout the pandemic, our special needs students and families have suffered greatly (medically, socially, etc.) with apparently no legitimate and/or accessible recovery of learning plan in sight. Parental choice (and the funding to the parents/guardians to choose) will require our school divisions to take a closer look at how they are treating our most vulnerable students and families.
Attached is testimony that clarifies the opportunities that HB 294 (Freitas) presents to parents and families.
I oppose HB294. Education improvement scholarship tax credits and education savings accounts are just another way of saying vouchers and waivers. All of these play a vital role in Virginia's sordid history of segregation and Massive Resistance. Waivers and vouchers were introduced after Brown V Board of Education passed so that white families had an option to keep their children from integrating with black children. Legislators needs to be doing everything they can to bridge the divide between the races, not create a wider. NO waviers, vouchers, education savings accounts, education tax credits, etc. that will siphon much needed funds from Virginia's public schools.