Public Comments for 01/25/2021 Education - SOL and SOQ Subcommittee
HB1826 - Education, Board of; qualifications of members.
Last Name: Joe McMahon (JLARC) Organization: JLARC Locality: Richmond

HB 1826 and HB 1827 would implement policy options from the October 2020 JLARC report on the Department of Education. I am available to speak or answer any questions if requested.

Last Name: Hicks Organization: Cca-tidewater Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Locality: Norfolk

Tidewater Connection Alumni Association represents children and Communities primarily in the 757, specifically Norfolk. Systemic Racism with in has caused widespread problems. Two schools in the Berkley and Campostella school district of Norfolk are in the bottom ten schools of all schools in Virginia. Funding is need to uplift the Educational providence of Southside STEM Academy at Campostella and St.Helena ranked even lower. It has also been brought to attention that Special Needs Children are in Dyer need of State if not Federal intervention. I.E.P.'s are either not being followed, or the conditions identified are not be serviced to the fullest extent of the law. We ask for outside audit with input from parents and the Not For Profit Organization, cca-tidewater, Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Barrett Hicks, Executive Director tcaa757@gmail.com or tidewaterconnection4all@aol.com

Last Name: Pannabecker Organization: Virginia Organizing Locality: Blacksburg

Regarding HB 1929, Standards of Quality; work-based learning and principal mentorship, teacher leaders and mentors: -- As a parent of a child in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) district in Southwest Virginia, HB1929 is a *TOP* priority bill that I want to see moved to a vote, passed, and signed into law this 2021 session. -- MCPS is one of Virginia's high-poverty school districts and we absolutely need the SOQs to be fully funded to increase funds for: the Equity Fund, school counselors to ensure at *least* one counselor for every 250 students, and to increase funding for English Learner students. --As a parent and community member, I have seen myself, and heard from other parents about the lack of student support from early elementary through secondary schools due to lack of funding for Support Staff, especially qualified school counselors. -- As a parent I have also seen the detrimental effects of low teacher support. If we want to succeed as a commonwealth, and if we want our children to succeed in their education and their lives, one of the *BEST* investments we can make is in their education. --Please pass HB1929 with all components and support it for vote in the General Assembly. Regarding HB1905 from Cole, this is a simple bill that is important to improve economic education and financial literacy in our secondary schools. With a child in secondary school, it's critical that students are taught about the current implications of today's employment arrangements that they may already be entered into, or that they will soon after graduation. Regarding HB1865 - Delaney Reading skills are critical to all subjects. This bill looks to provide targeted, evidence-based intervention resources as needed which is extremely important to ensure Virginia students succeed. Regarding HB1826 and HB1827 - Austin, it makes a great deal of sense to me to ensure that the Virginia Board of Education includes at least one member specializing in the areas noted in the bill, which are important to successful management of state education and student success. For HB1827 -- it is important that Geographical representation of members of the Virginia BOE include a representative from each region of Virginia. Often, areas like southwest VA and others are left out of such boards entirely.

Last Name: Campbell Locality: Fairfax County

Chair and members of the SOL and SOQ subcommittee, I appreciate Delegate Austin's proposals regarding the qualifications for the Virginia Board of Education members. I see the value in requiring that the Board of Education represent a variety of educational backgrounds, given the vast variety of students they serve across the Commonwealth. That said, one glaring omission in the proposed requirements is a requirement that one of the BOE members have expertise or experience in the field of Special Education. According to the most recent numbers I could find, Virginia has approximately 164,000 students receiving special education services. The recent JLARC study on K-12 Special Education in Virginia highlighted numerous alarming findings, including (but not limited to): Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)- required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) - are not consistently designed to be effective and reliable guides for special education services; Virginia does not prepare general education teachers or administrators with necessary special education skills, despite the emphasis on inclusion of students with disabilities in their least restrictive environments (LRE); a full 15% of special education teachers in Virginia schools currently are working with provisional licenses - a significantly higher percentage than their general education counterparts; inadequate handling of complaints against school divisions by VDOE - the findings go on. None of JLARC's findings come as a surprise to me, as a parent of a child with disabilities. I have seen many of these issues close-up and personally, as have many of the parents I know. The inconsistencies and roadblocks that we have to push past just to get our children access to the appropriate curriculum is, at times, seemingly insurmountable. I urge this body to take a hard look at the JLARC study findings. In order to address the numerous deficiencies brought to light by the JLARC study, Virginia will need a Board of Education with someone specifically qualified to represent the needs of 164,000+ students with disabilities across the Commonwealth. Please consider adding this requirement to the qualifications described in this bill. Best Regards, Amanda Campbell, submitted as an individual accampbell06@gmail.com

Last Name: Brown Locality: Fairfax County

I believe we are in changing times, and although it was acceptable for years to have Board members not have children in the system, we are seeing that is no longer acceptable to many of us parents. These board members have no understanding nor can relate to the issues that us parents of young school age children are having these days. Its a different time. These days, both parents are full time working ,especially in our county, and many cannot support virtual learning without giving up one parents career. Our lives in the Northern VA area are quite different due to the higher real estate prices and therefore both parents work full time. Many careers do not support virtual telework, and therefore we are having a hard time for the past 10 months. Families like ours are considering moving out of state to areas that have schools open with in-person education. reaching out to the DOE and schoolboard members doesn't help because they are out of touch with us parents who have young children. Many have highschoolers or college kids, both which you can leave home alone and go to work. WE CANNOT DO THIS WITH ELEMENTARY KIDS. The board members need to understand our situations and therefore should be required to have school age children in order to hold office.

HB1827 - Education, Board of; geographic representation of members.
Last Name: Beyer Locality: WillIamsburg

I support the notion that schools should be open 5 days a week immediately or the districts should be defunded. Taxpayer money is being wasted. CARES money is being misappropriated. Please help stop the madness and send our kids back now!

Last Name: Joe McMahon (JLARC) Organization: JLARC Locality: Richmond

HB 1826 and HB 1827 would implement policy options from the October 2020 JLARC report on the Department of Education. I am available to speak or answer any questions if requested.

Last Name: Hicks Organization: Cca-tidewater Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Locality: Norfolk

Tidewater Connection Alumni Association represents children and Communities primarily in the 757, specifically Norfolk. Systemic Racism with in has caused widespread problems. Two schools in the Berkley and Campostella school district of Norfolk are in the bottom ten schools of all schools in Virginia. Funding is need to uplift the Educational providence of Southside STEM Academy at Campostella and St.Helena ranked even lower. It has also been brought to attention that Special Needs Children are in Dyer need of State if not Federal intervention. I.E.P.'s are either not being followed, or the conditions identified are not be serviced to the fullest extent of the law. We ask for outside audit with input from parents and the Not For Profit Organization, cca-tidewater, Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Barrett Hicks, Executive Director tcaa757@gmail.com or tidewaterconnection4all@aol.com

Last Name: Durkin Organization: Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Roanoke

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this measure to ensure fair geographic representation on the Board of Education. Please vote "yes" on HB 1827.

Last Name: Pannabecker Organization: Virginia Organizing Locality: Blacksburg

Regarding HB 1929, Standards of Quality; work-based learning and principal mentorship, teacher leaders and mentors: -- As a parent of a child in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) district in Southwest Virginia, HB1929 is a *TOP* priority bill that I want to see moved to a vote, passed, and signed into law this 2021 session. -- MCPS is one of Virginia's high-poverty school districts and we absolutely need the SOQs to be fully funded to increase funds for: the Equity Fund, school counselors to ensure at *least* one counselor for every 250 students, and to increase funding for English Learner students. --As a parent and community member, I have seen myself, and heard from other parents about the lack of student support from early elementary through secondary schools due to lack of funding for Support Staff, especially qualified school counselors. -- As a parent I have also seen the detrimental effects of low teacher support. If we want to succeed as a commonwealth, and if we want our children to succeed in their education and their lives, one of the *BEST* investments we can make is in their education. --Please pass HB1929 with all components and support it for vote in the General Assembly. Regarding HB1905 from Cole, this is a simple bill that is important to improve economic education and financial literacy in our secondary schools. With a child in secondary school, it's critical that students are taught about the current implications of today's employment arrangements that they may already be entered into, or that they will soon after graduation. Regarding HB1865 - Delaney Reading skills are critical to all subjects. This bill looks to provide targeted, evidence-based intervention resources as needed which is extremely important to ensure Virginia students succeed. Regarding HB1826 and HB1827 - Austin, it makes a great deal of sense to me to ensure that the Virginia Board of Education includes at least one member specializing in the areas noted in the bill, which are important to successful management of state education and student success. For HB1827 -- it is important that Geographical representation of members of the Virginia BOE include a representative from each region of Virginia. Often, areas like southwest VA and others are left out of such boards entirely.

HB1885 - Comprehensive review of computer science standards, etc., in public schools; DOE to perform, report.
Last Name: Council Organization: Prince William County Schools Locality: Henrico

Prince William County Schools supports HB 1885. Given the expanding job opportunities in technology, we believe our K12 education curriculum needs to offer more computer course alternatives to students who desire to focus on this area.

Last Name: Narum Organization: AAUW of Greater Richmond Locality: Chesterfield County

Thank you for considering the important work of promoting computer science education in Virginia. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1980, when about 90% of the computer science majors were male. I used my STEM education as a foundation for a 35-year career working for manufacturing companies, most of it outside the traditional “women’s IT” areas of Finance and HR, which allowed me to support our family of four. Retired, I continue to share my STEM skills as a volunteer, because there is just not enough capability out here. The pandemic has highlighted and increased the value and importance of being able to navigate the world of the Internet; let’s give the next generation a running start at knowing how things work and how to use them. Especially, let’s make sure today’s girls and young women don’t get left behind. Research over the years has shown that girls who are not engaged by middle school are not likely to pursue computer studies later on; they step aside and miss out on so much. Paying attention to current and planned implementation of standards and identifying areas of improvement for expanding opportunities is a good step toward making sure that every Virginia K-12 school graduate is prepared. Nora K. Narum, AAUW of Greater Richmond, and proud alumna of CS@VT.

Last Name: Hicks Organization: Cca-tidewater Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Locality: Norfolk

Tidewater Connection Alumni Association represents children and Communities primarily in the 757, specifically Norfolk. Systemic Racism with in has caused widespread problems. Two schools in the Berkley and Campostella school district of Norfolk are in the bottom ten schools of all schools in Virginia. Funding is need to uplift the Educational providence of Southside STEM Academy at Campostella and St.Helena ranked even lower. It has also been brought to attention that Special Needs Children are in Dyer need of State if not Federal intervention. I.E.P.'s are either not being followed, or the conditions identified are not be serviced to the fullest extent of the law. We ask for outside audit with input from parents and the Not For Profit Organization, cca-tidewater, Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Barrett Hicks, Executive Director tcaa757@gmail.com or tidewaterconnection4all@aol.com

Last Name: Rogers, Sylvia Organization: AAUW of Virginia Locality: Rockingham

To the members of the Education Committee: I strongly urge you to support Del. Simonds' HB1885, which mandates a comprehensive review of computer science courses' SOL at the elementary and secondary levels of the Virginia public education system. From personal experience I understand the importance of promoting an education in STEM courses--particularly for women and girls. Whatever career path is eventually chosen by a student, a basic understanding of computer technologies is indispensable and can lead to unanticipated opportunities for contributions to research, discoveries and innovation in any fields, including those in the Humanities. I graduated from Rollins College in 1961 with a B.S. in Pre-Med and English. I completed a Ph.D. in 1986 at Stanford University in Medieval Studies with a dissertation demonstrating geometrical narrative structures in medieval literary texts. I came to understand and appreciate the advantages of using computer-based instruction late in my teaching career. But as a Professor of English Literature at Notre Dame de Namur University, and later at James Madison University, I pioneered the use of online computer technology to teach multidisciplinary courses in literature at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These courses were a gratifying culmination of my professional experience. Yet, since my ultimate retirement in 2010, I have pondered how much more I might have contributed to my students' love and understanding of English literature if I had had an earlier foundation in computer technology and its applications. Every student in Virginia must be enabled to become competent in the computer sciences and inspired to think about creative applications of the technology across all disciplines. Thank you.

Last Name: Newell Organization: American Association of University Women (AAUW) Locality: Richmond City

Thank you for considering the important work of promoting computer science education in Virginia. I have a vested interest since I was a severe minority in getting a Masters in Computer Science in 1980 when computers were the size of rooms. As a long-term member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) I remember the first research published in 2000 called TechSavvy, Educating Girls in the New Computer Age. That was followed by publication of Why So Few (2010) and of Solving the Equation (2015). The research then and now clearly determined that girls who were not engaged by middle school were not likely to join computer studies later in their academic careers. Working in technology for over 40 years and wondering when more women were going to show up in the workforce has only shown that, although there has been improvement, the work of promoting STEM studies is not complete. Today’s reality only emphasizes the necessity of computer education, not only for career success, but for life success. Many people my age are currently isolated because they do not have the basic skills to use Zoom or social media to stay in touch with families and friends. Students suddenly forced into virtual schooling are dependent on computer skills to succeed in any subject. Technology jobs go unfilled in Virginia because we simply do not have the needed increasing numbers of skilled and educated young graduates. Computer science education is no longer an option for career and life success. Shining the light on current and planned implementation of standards and identifying areas of improvement for expanding opportunities is a good step toward making sure that every Virginia K-12 school graduate is prepared. Jane D. Newell AAUW of Greater Richmond

Last Name: Steele Organization: Project Lead The Way Locality: Orlando, FL

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national STEM/CTE non-profit organization that provides transformational learning experiences for PreK-12 students and teachers in the fields of biomedical science, computer science and engineering. Our mission is to empower students to thrive in an evolving world. We work with districts across the commonwealth to implement high quality and relevant educational opportunities to better prepare teachers and students for successful careers. We advocate for policies that will enhance learning opportunities with a focus on best practices, equity and access for all. We are in favor of HB 2058 – Virginia STEM Education Advisory Board - as we believe this would bridge gaps and assist in addressing equity issues in STEM offerings. With the number of high-quality STEM related job opportunities in Virginia, it is our opinion that an advisory board would be a critical component to a high-functioning STEM ecosystem and workforce pipeline. We are in favor of HB 1885 – Comprehensive review of computer science standards, etc., in public schools - as computer science implementation can, in some instances, be challenging for districts. We believe that local implementation recommendations specific to computer science would greatly assist our district partners and increase the number of students able to access these courses. Thank you for your consideration.

HB1947 - High school graduation requirements; certain substitutions.
Last Name: Kuettner Locality: Rockbridge

I thank you for allowing those in opposition to Delegate Davis’ House Bill 1947 to speak and write their comments. I ask that you as individual committee members pay particular attention to a joint letter of concern and rebuttal signed by three individuals in the language industry – Amanda Seewald, President of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL); Howie Berman, Executive Director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); and me, Dick Kuettner, Executive Director/President of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA). I might add that I am also the Coordinator for the Virginia Governor’s (Full-Immersion) World Language Academies through the Virginia Department of Education. I wish to signal you as well to a communication which you have received from Wade Edwards, professor and dean at Longwood University. Dr. Edwards is an expert in disability and world language learning (diverse learners). Both Dr. Edwards and those signing the joint letter mentioned above counter some of the input from individuals promoting the passing of this legislation. I request that you take a serious look at these two pieces of correspondence. I recently directed a communication to the president of the Virginia Education Association as I was curious to know why the VEA had endorsed this bill without giving reason at the subcommittee meeting on January 25, 2021. I wrote, “I realize that some students have difficulty in learning languages, and I truthfully have to admit that I was not one of those. I had difficulty learning math. However, I was not given opportunity to substitute language for the math with which I had difficulty. And students who have difficulty with language should not be allowed to substitute language with computer science. Language has lots of cognitive value and is instrumental in developing thinking skills. It also improves functions like alertness and simply ‘paying attention’ …in class, if you will. … To allow students to do an either-or when it comes to language learning is a detriment to the student and can most easily be classified as allowing a ‘cop-out’. I teach at the post-secondary level, and some of my best success stories are with students with disabilities. How exciting it is to see students achieve today, rather than have regrets tomorrow. Just one last point. Consider the student who was given the option to cop out and take computer science in place of a world language. As the end of the junior year approaches, the high schooler starts to think about college applications, only to find out that many colleges and universities require language study for admission. The student cannot go back in time; the student has been short-changed due to bad policy.” Teachers in the state of Virginia are trained in IEP’s and 504’s. Dealing with students with disabilities is covered in my language methods course for language teacher licensure. The VDOE shares valuable information about working with students with disabilities on its world language web pages. There is much to be gained in "promoting" language study and there is much to be gained from language study itself. Our students need to be "encouraged to meet the challenges" and not always look for the easy way out, especially when there is more at stake in the child’s development than just a grade on the report card. PRK

Last Name: Haines Organization: Global Virginia Locality: Richmond

VA HB 1947 is misguided legislation and bad policy. This bill is fundamentally flawed and posits mistaken and false equivalents between studying/ learning world languages and computer programming languages. While laudatory to recognize the importance of coding in preparing students for future success, this is no way to value computer coding. It is disingenuous to consider coding languages similar to world languages because other than the accidental coincidence of shared nomenclature, they are disparate disciplines in every way. Its study does not allow students to gain intercultural skills, and perspectives; unlike world language study, computer coding cannot be used to interact and negotiate with others. Code.org, the national organization dedicated to providing access to computer science states: “These efforts could actually undermine the ability of students to have access to this critical field.” Having recently retired from the Intelligence Community as a senior executive and having spent over twenty years in the U.S. Army, I know firsthand the essential value and necessity of a global world view. For our national security, and global competitiveness it is imperative we understand the other through their national, ethnic and cultural lens. Beyond the disservice HV 1947 does to computer science, it also harms preparing our future leaders to be successful global citizens. Without studying world languages and related courses, we lose our competitive edge. Countless studies and research indicate the educational and cognitive benefits of learning a second language: critical thinking, mental flexibility, divergent thinking and improved listening and memory skills. Knowing the other by having language skills, and intercultural competence has a direct and positive impact to the success of maintaining and defending our international interests and homeland security. Our nation’s business and economic success depends on future generations of leaders –now students, to effectively communicate not only in English but in at least one other world language. Business and industries involved in import and export rely heavily on employees with language savvy and cultural awareness. This legislation undermines Virginia’s efforts to teach, nurture and grow the next generation of leaders to be globally competitive. Academically, most Virginia colleges and universities, and many out-of-state universities either expect or require incoming students to have at least two or more years of world language study and will not recognize computer coding courses as sufficient to fulfill those world language requirements. This may likely affect students with disabilities to have an equal opportunity in the college entrance process. Just as it would be absurd to substitute a search engine for a jet engine, a soup bowl for a toilet bowl, or an electrical outlet for a mall outlet, this policy is misguided to substitute coding languages for world languages. We need to invest more, not less in language learning; computer coding should be given separate, not substitutional funding and support. Computer coding is part of the larger field of computer science which no doubt is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement. What’s needed is legislation that will codify the difference between these very important areas of study and fund them appropriately so that future leaders are prepared for individual, national and global success.

Last Name: Scinicariello Organization: Foreign Language Association of Virginia Locality: Henrico County, VA

I write a second time in opposition to HB 1947. Despite the sympathy I feel for the parents of children who struggle with world language instruction who testified last week, my reasons for opposition have not changed. This bill creates a false equivalency between world languages and computer science. I have spent my career at the intersection of world languages and technology and know that the two teach different skills. Digital literacy and computer science are essential skills for all, a fact recognized by the K-12 SOLs for the integration of digital skills throughout the curriculum. Computer science, however, does not teach the ability to interact with other human beings in a multilingual, multicultural world. This essential ability is taught within world language courses. Virginia’s Profile of a Graduate sets the goal for all Virginia high school graduates to “build connections and value for interactions with diverse communities.” World language instruction helps students meet this goal, a fact recognized by the NAACP in a 2016 resolution “the NAACP will join forces with other organizations to encourage public school districts to institute multilingual curriculum into their course of study for all students.” At a practical level, proficiency in world languages is essential to success in all economic domains. Research reports that nine of ten American employers rely on employees with world language skills; one in four employers report having lost business because they lack employees with the necessary skills. Every occupation--from farming to robotics--is involved in global exchanges of products and information that require intercultural communication. Most importantly perhaps, this bill sends a message to students with disabilities that they are unable to benefit from the study of a world language. That is simply not true. In fact, the International Dyslexia Association, while acknowledging that dyslexics may have difficulty, states “This does not mean that they should avoid the study of a new language.” Students with disabilities can, with appropriate accommodation, excel in language classes and gain both a better understanding of how languages work and the ability to collaborate and communicate with diverse populations. For many students, expanding the choice of available languages can be a solution: American Sign Language and non-alphabet-based languages, e.g., Chinese, can address many issues. World language teachers have long adapted their methods to accommodate different learning styles, and both the Virginia Department of Education and national language organizations offer professional development to them. Finally, this bill is an unnecessary expansion of the current law, which was passed in 2020. Before this provision is expanded, the current law should be given the time to address the needs of the rare students who need a world language accommodation credit. For these reasons I urge you to defeat HB 1947. Not recognizing the value of world language instruction disadvantages all Virginians. Thank you, Sharon Scinicariello, Ph.D. Advocacy Chair, Foreign Language Association of Virginia Director Emerita, Global Studio, University of Richmond

Last Name: Petersen Locality: Powhatan

I am writing to ask that you please oppose Bill 1947, which would allow coding courses to count as foreign language courses for high school credit. Coding, while important, is not a replacement for studying a language, which involves the reading of literature and the exploration of culture, humanity and global issues. As a Latin teacher I know of numerous Latin students and even Latin teachers who have gone on to be expert coders, who not only excel at their technological profession, but also bring to their job a deep understanding of human nature and ability to examine the ethics of what they do from their study of literature and their practice with interpersonal communication in a language class. I have less confidence that those who only study coding without studying another language and culture will be as well rounded and able to navigate the complex issues that AI and a more highly networked global community are bringing with them. In recent times we have unfortunately witnessed the dangers that a lack of empathy for those who are different can have. We also suffered as international diplomacy was devalued. If anything, we need to be bolstering opportunities for American students to learn about other peoples, understand their issues, and reflect on how their history has intertwined with ours. We need to give them the linguistic tools to be citizens of the world. Coding cannot do these things, as important as it may be for its own reasons. There would be a real loss to education and to our current efforts to be better as a country if coding were pronounced by this bill to be a substitute for world language study. We need to be very careful that despite well-intentioned efforts to help a population that does indeed need to be served, we don't simultaneously send a message that being a global citizen is not important. In fact, the message sent about the value of understanding those different from us is precisely what is at stake with this bill. The great irony would be that in trying to address the needs of those with challenges, we would have be laying a path for depriving students around Virginia from the benefits that come from learning about those different from themselves. Let's find another way to help students with dyslexia. They deserve our help, but this is not the answer. Coding is not without its own challenges for students with dyslexia. Both coding and language study provide unique text-related difficulties to overcome, as well as opportunities for the strengths of dyslexics like big-picture thinking to shine. Let's help world language teachers learn better how to help dyslexic students shine, just as we would have to teach coding instructors to do. Please don't shift the challenges from one subject matter to another for these kids while taking away the opportunity for all kids to gain the global perspective we so desperately need them to have for the good of our economy, political standing, moral grounding and ability to solve our problems with empathy and understanding. Please vote against Bill 1947 and any future bills like it. Computer science study may be important but it is not a substitute for world language study and certainly should not be a replacement for it.

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Farmville

I’ll assume the best intentions of the bill’s sponsor, namely that there’s an attempt to address the needs of students with disabilities and not an attempt to find an alternative for a “useless” or “unimportant” subject like foreign language. If this is indeed the motivation, it is admirable, but I think the bill misunderstands both students with disabilities and the value of world language courses. I live in Prince Edward County, where a philosophy of "separate but equal" education, which this proposal adopts, has had a longterm negative impact. I have been a French instructor in public institutions for 25 years. My field of expertise is disability education in foreign languages. Most students with disabilities do not need to be singled out for special classes—they need to be adequately integrated into all classes. This bill assumes an outdated model of disability in which deficiencies hinder opportunities. It would create a curriculum in which school divisions are absolved from integrating students with disabilities into all classes. If disability is diversity, this bill, because it segregates students with a diagnosis, is a step backward in the fight toward inclusion. Moreover, the bill potentially misunderstands what students learn in a world language class and ignores the value of those outcomes to all students and their futures. It may be true that students in the two or three required high school courses don’t learn enough Spanish or French or Latin to be independent users of the language, but even intermediate-level proficiency isn’t the goal of the requirement. Rather, those required courses help students look at language in a systematic way, use their native language better, and appreciate new perspectives that will complicate and deepen their understanding of themselves and the world they already know. Early language classes are also rather social and interactives courses, requiring students to learn how to collaborate and get along with others. These are all skills employers are looking for—communication skills, interpersonal skills, awareness of others, talent at negotiation and collaboration—and skills that students with disabilities need to acquire as much as students without disabilities. Furthermore, students with disabilities have a lot to teach students without disabilities. If students with and without disabilities are not taught in the same classes, how will they learn from one another? How does the world become more attuned to students with dyslexia if they are relegated to special classes? Foreign language instructors trained in teaching about diverse cultures and perspectives are among the most adept in teaching diverse students, including those with disabilities. Even a student with low vision or a hard of hearing student can be successful in a world language class, in part because our classes address multiple skills—reading, writing, listening, and all the rest—that can be pitched to the student’s abilities. Rather than perpetuate the stereotype that a student with disabilities just can’t handle a foreign language class, the bill would better serve students if, instead of segregating them into computer classes, it encouraged world language instructors to include them in their pedagogy. This bill may come from a good place, but I think it is a disservice to both students with disabilities and world language instructors. We cannot return to separate-but-equal educational practices.

Last Name: Walker Locality: Great Falls

Dear Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am writing in support for HB-1947. As a parent in Fairfax county and a professional in an industry where foreign language skills are extremely valued, I support this bill because it treats students as individuals. I have read the statements by teachers about the importance of foreign languages and cultural awareness in our increasingly interconnected world and I agree with those statements. I also agree that we should encourage our children to study languages and continue to work to improve our language offerings and instruction. However, as a professional working in an industry where proficiency in a foreign language is an asset, I can assure you that most high school and college students will not attain the level of proficiency that will give them a competitive edge. In fact, students with three or four years of college foreign language receive the same employment considerations as applicants with no foreign language unless they demonstrate proficiency. Most people at the company do not speak a foreign language and do not need to speak one in their daily job. The applicants that are specifically hired for their language skill have demonstrated fluency at the native (5 level) language level. Some private schools, including the National Cathedral School—one of the most rigorous educational programs in the country—allow exemptions for foreign language requirements for students with demonstrated need. Some colleges, including some of the most elite in this country, offer exemptions to foreign language requirements for students with demonstrated need. In both instances, they require students to attempt the language before offering the exemption and again only for students with demonstrated need. Please note, I am not advocating to remove the foreign language requirement for the vast majority of students. Nor do I suggest all students with a demonstrated need should be exempt. Rather, the teachers, school administrators, parents, and student should have the freedom to choose the best approach for any specific student. For that reason, I encourage you to support this bill that treats our talented, driven, accomplished students as individuals—individuals who are poised to make great contributions to our society regardless of their foreign language capabilities.

Last Name: Carson Organization: Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors Locality: Norfolk

Dear Education Sub-committee Members, On behalf of the Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors (VOWLS), I am writing to express our profound opposition to HB1947, to be considered in the SOL and SOQ subcommittee meeting this coming Monday morning. This bill seeks to “[p]rovide for the substitution of computer science course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities”. I have been present for the two prior sub-committee meetings 1/18 and 1/25. I hope I may have a chance to speak briefly at the rescheduled meeting 2/1. At the 1/25 meeting, two parents of students with dyslexia gave comments in support of HB1947. They seem to be unaware that the current law permits students with a communicative disability such as dyslexia to request a waiver of world language coursework for the standard and advanced diplomas. HB1947 as written provides fewer options for such students, while doing a grave disservice to all students by conflating computer science with world language study. The study of other languages and cultures has long-lived cognitive benefits, and develops literacy and global competency. In addition, language study cultivates critical thinking, communication, responsible citizenship, and respect for diversity of individuals, groups, and cultures, all pillars of the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. Our organization of central office education leaders vehemently opposes HB1947. Cordially, Jennifer N. Carson President, Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors (VOWLS)

Last Name: Smith Organization: CCPS and FLAVA Locality: Chesterfield

World language educators and computer professionals maintain that computer coding, although important, cannot teach the same essential skills as world language instruction.  In addition, WL instruction benefits ALL students, and there is research to support this belief. A computer coding course is not equivalent to a WL course for these reasons: 1. Computer coding does not allow students to gain intercultural skills, insight, and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. It doesnt meet the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015) 2. Computer coding cant be used by people to interact and negotiate meaning with others 3. Computer coding cannot be used to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between products, practices, and perspectives of a culture through language. Languages provide historical connections to society and culture and have been around for centuries, gathering elements of culture, preserving stories, and for human communication. In comparison to most languages with about 10,000 vocabulary words and grammar structures, coding doest use large numbers of words or use them in the same ways.  "Typical computing language has a vocabulary of about 100 words, and the real work is learning how to put these words together.” (Hirotaka, 2014) Merriam-Webster provides the following definition of language: a system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. Coding doest express thoughts or feelings. Colleges and universities vary in their policies for accepting computer coding as fulfilling students' WL entry requirements. Computer coding is part of computer science, which is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement and is more related to math and science than languages.

Last Name: Kuettner Organization: Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) Locality: Rockbridge County

Good afternoon Chair Van Valkenburg and Members of the Sub-committee, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you briefly regarding substituting world language study with computer coding. Let me give you a little background about myself. I have taught in the elementary school classroom, been a principal for an elementary and middle school, instructed at the secondary level, been a dean of instruction, am a professor at the university level and direct language learning technologies for my employer. I presently teach French and Spanish language courses and methods for language acquisition within our education studies program. I am university educated through the doctoral level at home and abroad -- and am Defense Language Institute trained. Besides that, I am president of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia and coordinate the Virginia Governor’s full-immersion Language Academies for the Virginia Department of Education. With all these experiences I have had over the last years, I find it troublesome that, for some reason, world language study has become a punching bag in our state. Advocating for language importance has become an annual event in the month of January. I believe that the problem stems from some not understanding the importance of communication as we try to expand our horizons as individuals and as a nation. For me, there are two areas for concern. 1. For some reason, there is an illusion that computer languages are synonymous with world languages. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies indicate that there is no similarity. 2. My second area of concern is the fact that HB 1947 is setting the precedent of having students cop-out if they find something challenging. World language teachers in the state of Virginia are taught how to address difficult times in the classroom. This is a basic part of their training. If you were to go to the VDOE site/ instruction/ world languages, you will see that there is an entire section devoted to supporting world language learning for students with disabilities or other problems. Working with our students is what we are supposed to do. And Virginia's teachers do it well! I do have a question for you. Why world languages? Why not math or science or other disciplines in your quest for substitutes? Are you saying that there is a language learning disability? I hear people have problems with math, I don’t hear that they have a disability for learning math, however. I don't see the logic here. Math is important. Language is important. Let the student be challenged. Let the student have an edge in the real world where employers seek individuals with language skills. You have all the facts. The Joint National Committee for Languages and many others have sent you comments with stats on all the benefits of language learning. Don’t deprive students of opportunities and teach them ways to cop-out. We are constantly reminded that we are supposed to build students up, not tear them down by giving them the easy way out. I ask that you defeat HB 1947 as its relevance is truly debatable. Respectfully, Dick Kuettner

Last Name: Robertson Organization: Foreign Language Association of Virginia, Classical Association of Virginia, Virginia Junior Classical League, and National Latin Exam Locality: Chesterfield County

I have spent 43 ½ years in the classroom, all but two of those years in Chesterfield County as a teacher of Latin. I am the immediate past president of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, and am an officer of the Classical Association of Virginia, the Virginia Junior Classical League, and the National Latin Exam. And in representing these language organizations, I can assure you that computer science does not equal the study of a foreign language nor should it replace learning a foreign language. A programming language doesn’t help us understand “You” or your culture and your society. It doesn’t help us to communicate with each other. It doesn’t help us to understand other country’s histories and cultural differences, economic situations, and therefore, the diverse nature of the world. Even the computer coding community itself, especially such companies as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, agree that computer science/coding should not be substituted for a foreign language and that perhaps the most logical place for computer science would be among science and mathematics courses. Communicating more clearly in our global society is imperative to success in the business world. "A recent survey of U.S. businesses by JNCL-NCLIS and the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute revealed that over half of U.S. businesses track their employees’ foreign language skills, 35% give an advantage to multilingual applicants, and one in six has lost business prospects due to a lack of employees with language skills. Based on a survey of 1,200 US employers, the research firm Ipsos found that 9 out of 10 businesses rely on employees with language skills other than English. And 56% say their foreign language demand will increase in the next five years. The future of the economy is clearly global, and our nation’s success in it depends on the ability of our citizens to meaningfully partake in it.” And finally, for those who are concerned about the difficulty of learning a foreign language, especially for the students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, I would like to point out that both ASL and Latin have been cited as viable languages for such students. Since there is no written spelling to master, ASL tends to be easier for students with dyslexia to learn. In Latin, the primary focus is reading and that allows students with relatively poor phonological coding (auditory ability) to have a better opportunity to learn. It was my pleasure to teach such students over the years and they were successful language learners. For these reasons and many more, I ask that you reject House Bill 1947.

Last Name: Donatelli Organization: The Language Group LLC Locality: Virginia Beach

Hello Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Giovanni Donatelli. I am the founder and Managing Partner of The Language Group which is headquartered in Virginia Beach. I am writing as a business owner opposed to HB 1947. I was slated to speak against this bill, but was unable to contribute due to your time constraints. My company is an award – winning and nationally ranked language services provider. We have been in business 21 years. We provide on-demand language services in over 200 languages to city governments, school systems, hospitals and the private sector such as manufacturing and service organizations. In any given year we work with more than 1000 contract linguists throughout the commonwealth and across the US with a majority of that number located in Virginia. My business could not exist without individuals skilled in world languages; and I can tell you than many of them started on their path to the language services industry through their high school world language courses. My company is part of a growing language service industry in the US. Language services is a $50 billion industry, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that it will grow 20% over the next 10 years. That is far above the forecasted rate of growth of our national economy over that same period. I, presently and formerly, have engaged, at very good pay scales, interpreters that would be categorized as physically disabled. And I can assure you that their disability did not affect their delivery of language services. While computer science is a valuable skillset, it should not replace a skillset that is also in great demand: Languages. I urge this subcommittee to vote down HB 1947. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Harrower Locality: Fairfax

As a computer programmer and web developer, it is my belief that computer science would now appropriately for under math requirements than language requirements. Programming and maths are fundamentally the process of applying predetermined rules to input to achieve the desired result, whereas language exposes students to a wider range of culture, arts, ways of living, current events, and helps students avoid ethno-centrism.

Last Name: Ayliff Organization: Self Locality: Falls Church (Fairfax County)

I support HB1865. I became a literacy advocate after I understood the instruction my bright son was given was totally inadequate and not based on replicable reliable science. That was 25 yrs ago. Perhaps this time? I also support HB 1947, allowing students with disabilities to take computer classes instead of foreign language. Foreign language is a huge stumbling block and a barrier which can keep brilliant students from excelling at what they are most talented. As a homeschool teacher, I watched my sons struggle with Latin and then Spanish, hours that would have been more wisely spent learning computer programming or any practically anything else. As far as not relating to foreigners, I did not worry, as my husband is one and my sons got along with him just fine. We travelled extensively and did not have a problem communicating or learning the customs, food, or art. Today is such an exciting time to live.....there is Google translate! Because of technology, I frequently send message to my Spanish, French, German friends without having to master all those languages and different dialects. Foreign language was such a obstacle, I decided to keep on homeschooling my sons to get rid of it. Both my sons found their path; one is a mechanical engineer, and the other does virtual reality programing. I think it would not only benefit many of our brilliant, creative, gifted (but think differently) students but also our country, to assist them reach their potential.

Last Name: Procaccino Locality: Fairfax County

I am greatly disheartened to see this bill introduced yet again. World Language instruction is invaluable in our ever diversifying nation and local communities. Demand for job applicants with multiple language skills has doubled since 2015. Providing students with a background in a second or additional language prepares them for careers in all areas and better allows them to engage and interact with the world around them. Language education also provides an opportunity for schools to engage and build relations with non English speaking families and students who are still often disproportionately likely to drop out of school or are affected by the achievement gap. By requiring that students study language, schools are cultivating a more globally conscious student body who can more fully build relationships with others. Also, it is widely documented that when people start learning languages at younger ages, they are better able to develop phonological mastery and have more time to develop their skills. This change in requirements would deprive students of that chance. Even if students discontinue with their language study, their exposure to the language will benefit their ability to replicate sounds and demonstrate proficiency if they choose to continue learning languages as adults. World language education demonstrates that schools and the state value the experiences and funds of knowledge that students with multiple languages bring to their communities. While computer science is a noble pursuit, it is NOT synonymous with World Language education and should instead be considered a science or math credit. Many colleges and universities require students to have foreign language experience and this change in requirements would adversely impact students’ preparation and applications to higher education. Language study can be applied and used in ANY career field whereas computer science is very specific. This also sets a dangerous precedent for the inclusions of other specific courses and requirement changes that are popular at a given time. Thank you very much for your careful consideration of this extremely important issue.

Last Name: Council Organization: Prince William County Schools Locality: Henrico

Prince William County Schools supports HB 1947 for many of the same reasons it supports, and commented upon, HB 1885. The subject matter of HB 1947 has been a legislative priority of PWCS for the last few years. Given the expanding job opportunities in technology, we believe our K12 education curriculum needs to offer more computer course alternatives to students who desire to focus on this area. We do believe that the alternative provided in HB 1947 should be extended to all students.

Last Name: Goldstein Organization: Flint Hill School Locality: Washington, DC

While not everyone can master a foreign language, anyone can learn some of it, while learning about world cultures and an appreciation for others’ differences. While a valuable skill, coding can never replace that!

Last Name: Seewald Organization: Joint National Committee for Languages - National Council for International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) Locality: Scotch Plains

On behalf of our members, I write to you today to oppose the substitution of world language credits with computer coding courses outlined in HB 1947. We believe that this legislation proceeds from three deeply flawed premises, namely: that world language study has no benefit to high school students, particularly students with disabilities; that the study of computer coding and world languages is essentially the same and that one can be substituted for another; and that biliteracy is irrelevant to the workplace. We could not disagree more. Knowledge of a second language has been shown to confer a wide array of cognitive benefits on the individual at all life stages. In early childhood, acquisition of a second language has strong, positive behavioral and developmental effects, including greater cognitive flexibility and improved problem solving. In K-12 schools, language education, particularly the growing trend of dual language immersion, improves test scores for native English speakers and English learners alike and narrows achievement gaps. Virginia’s colleges and universities recognize these benefits as most require or strongly recommend that high school students pursue two to three years of world language study. Language proficiency has been associated with stronger executive function in the brain, greater likelihood of recovery from stroke, and delayed onset of Dementia-related ailments. Further, studying computer coding and world languages are fundamentally dissimilar activities, yielding results that are not equivalent. While computer coding is unquestionably a valuable skill, it’s study does not allow students to gain the intercultural skills and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. Unlike world language study, computer coding cannot be used by people to interact and negotiate with other people. Finally, we must note that the coding community itself suggests that the most logical place to locate coding would be among the sciences and mathematics, not in world languages. Finally, we assert that the bill’s underlying assumption that businesses value computer coding skills and view world language skills as irrelevant is belied by the facts. A 2019 report from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, entitled “Making Language Our Business,” found the following: 9 out of 10 US employers rely on employees with world language skills;1 in 3 foreign language-dependent employers reports a language skills gap;the construction sector (40%) and healthcare and social assistance sector (37%) report the greatest foreign language skills gap; 1 in 4 employers lost business due to a lack of foreign language skill; 35% of employers in the construction sector and 29% in the professional and technical services sector are most likely to be unable to pursue or have lost business due to a lack of world language skills. If enacted, HB 1947 would steer students with disabilities away from world language study and potential workforce opportunities to their own detriment and to that of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy. All Virginia students need and deserve world language skills. Substituting computer coding for world languages will put Virginia’s high school students at a significant disadvantage in school, in the workplace and throughout their lives. To protect every student's right to a free and equal education that prepares them for success, JNCL-NCLIS opposes HB 1947.

Last Name: Piazza Locality: Fairfax

I am writing as a modern language teacher in Fairfax County and a mother of children who are students in the Fairfax County Public Schools. I ask that you vote in opposition to this bill as I do not believe that replacing language credit for students with learning disabilities is the appropriate course of study for our students. Coding and computer science credits are not the same as learning a language. If we have learned nothing else during our experiences over the last year it is that we need speakers of different languages to be able to communicate and solve issues in our world. Just because a student has a disability does not mean that language studies should be replaced with computer science credit. We don't take math or science out of the curriculum for these students, we find different ways to teach them, and the same should occur for language learning. Learning a language also means learning about culture, differences in communities, and making connections about issues that we have in common. Please do not take this learning opportunity away from our students.

Last Name: Jean Marí Hernández López Organization: Flint Hill School Locality: Centreville

As a Foreign Language teacher, I oppose the bill HB1947-Davis. The main reason is the discrimination that students with disabilities would face if they are not required to take a foreign language. The FL classroom teaches ALL students to be prepared for the world. It teaches how to communicate with other citizens of the world that don't speak the same language as you; it teaches how other cultures understand the world; it helps ALL students to develop empathy and respect for the different cultures; it is about uniting people, cultures and therefore being successful when working with others, doing business with others and help others. If students with disabilities are not required to have this experience, we are discriminating against a group of students who are already vulnerable. Everybody can learn a language. We all do it at a different pace and use different strategies. In my opinion, it is not about giving these students another option, it is about creating a space where students with disabilities can learn a language at their own pace, with their own strategies to be successful. It is about providing professional development for language teachers so that they know how to help these students in the classroom. It is about creating collaboration between foreign language teachers and special needs teachers. It is about helping students with disabilities to be successful and show them we don't give up on them.

Last Name: Josa Castro Locality: Fairfax

As a Foreign Language teacher, I oppose the bill HB1947-Davis. The main reason is the discrimination that students with disabilities would face if they are not required to take a foreign language. The FL classroom teaches ALL students to be prepared for the world. It teaches how to communicate with other citizens of the world that don't speak the same language as you; it teaches how other cultures understand the world; it helps ALL students to develop empathy and respect for the different cultures; it is about uniting people, cultures and therefore being successful when working with others, doing business with others and help others. If students with disabilities are not required to have this experience, we are discriminating against a group of students who are already vulnerable. Everybody can learn a language. We all do it at a different pace and use different strategies. In my opinion, it is not about giving these students another option, it is about creating a space where students with disabilities can learn a language at their own pace, with their own strategies to be successful. It is about providing professional development for language teachers so that they know how to help these students in the classroom. It is about creating collaboration between foreign language teachers and special needs teachers. It is about helping students with disabilities to be successful and show them we don't give up on them.

Last Name: Haines Organization: Global Virginia Locality: Richmond

VA HB 1947 is misguided legislation and bad policy. This bill is fundamentally flawed and posits mistaken and false equivalents between studying/ learning world languages and computer programming languages. While laudatory to recognize the importance of coding in preparing students for future success, this is no way to value computer coding. It is disingenuous to consider coding languages similar to world languages because other than the accidental coincidence of shared nomenclature, they are disparate disciplines in every way. Its study does not allow students to gain intercultural skills, and perspectives; unlike world language study, computer coding cannot be used to interact and negotiate with others. Code.org, the national organization dedicated to providing access to computer science states: “These efforts could actually undermine the ability of students to have access to this critical field.” Having recently retired from the Intelligence Community as a senior executive and having spent over twenty years in the U.S. Army, I know firsthand the essential value and necessity of a global world view. For our national security, and global competitiveness it is imperative we understand the other through their national, ethnic and cultural lens. Beyond the disservice HV 1947 does to computer science, it also harms preparing our future leaders to be successful global citizens. Without studying world languages and related courses, we lose our competitive edge. Countless studies and research indicate the educational and cognitive benefits of learning a second language: critical thinking, mental flexibility, divergent thinking and improved listening and memory skills. Knowing the other by having language skills, and intercultural competence has a direct and positive impact to the success of maintaining and defending our international interests and homeland security. Our nation’s business and economic success depends on future generations of leaders –now students, to effectively communicate not only in English but in at least one other world language. Business and industries involved in import and export rely heavily on employees with language savvy and cultural awareness. This legislation undermines Virginia’s efforts to teach, nurture and grow the next generation of leaders to be globally competitive. Academically, most Virginia colleges and universities, and many out-of-state universities either expect or require incoming students to have at least two or more years of world language study and will not recognize computer coding courses as sufficient to fulfill those world language requirements. This may likely affect students with disabilities to have an equal opportunity in the college entrance process. Just as it would be absurd to substitute a search engine for a jet engine, a soup bowl for a toilet bowl, or an electrical outlet for a mall outlet, this policy is misguided to substitute coding languages for world languages. We need to invest more, not less in language learning; computer coding should be given separate, not substitutional funding and support. Computer coding is part of the larger field of computer science which no doubt is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement. What’s needed is legislation that will codify the difference between these very important areas of study and fund them appropriately so that future leaders are prepared for individual, national and global success.

Last Name: Trude Organization: LCPS and FLAVA Locality: Fauquier County

Good morning, Delegates! As the 2019 ACTFL Language Teacher of the Year finalist, a world language educator, and a Virginia resident of the 88th district, I oppose House Bill 1947. Imagine you are about to start high school and are very excited for all the new learning opportunities that are available to you. You go to meet with your school counselor and case manager, but are told NO, you cannot take a world language class! This student with a disability that was told he would NEVER be able to learn a language and receive his advanced diploma. As a language teacher, I know we need to see the potential in all of our students and focus on teaching the whole child every day. Language learning is for ALL students no matter their background. This student studied French with me and took it every semester, every year! He not only passed my classes, he excelled and became the top French student in his grade level, and eventually became my French tutor, tutoring his peers and serving as my TA. He even hosted 2 students from our partner school in Charleville-Mezieres, France which only furthered his passion for French. I knew I had to be an advocate for this student and all other students with special needs who are told that they cannot be successful in a world language class. It was only because I believed in this student and continued to encourage him when others did not, that he was able to succeed. The skills that students learn in the language classroom prepares them for life. They are learning to be creators, collaborators, critical thinkers, and communicators. They are also learning to be good listeners and decision-makers, as well as being understanding and empathetic to others. A computer coding course is not equivalent to a world language course for the following reasons: 1. The study of computer coding does not allow students to gain the intercultural skills, insight, and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. 2. Computer coding cannot be used by people to interact and negotiate meaning with other people. 3. Computer coding cannot be used to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between the products, practices, and perspectives of a particular culture through the language. Languages provide an historical connection to society and culture and have been around for centuries, gathering the elements of culture, preserving stories, and being used for human communication. In order for students to be successful in the global society, they need to develop a sense of interculturality. In the language classroom, students learn to understand and appreciate other cultures and how those cultures relate to their own. Students’ perceptions of the world change and they become more understanding of others. Coding does not afford students any opportunities to develop cultural competence. Language truly is a product of a culture, and the knowledge that comes with learning different ways of seeing the world is something that we need more of in today's society. I respectfully oppose any attempts to substitute coding classes for language study, which is vigorously and uniformly rejected by those in the computer science field and world language educators. If HB 1947 resurfaces for a vote, I urge you to consider these facts and the implications that it will have for ALL students across the Commonwealth. Thank you for your time and your vote against HB 1947. Respectfully submitted - Heidi Trude

Last Name: Trude Organization: FLAVA (Foreign Language Association of Virginia) Locality: Fauquier County

As the 2019 ACTFL Language Teacher of the Year finalist, a world language educator, the President- Elect of FLAVA, and a Virginia resident of the 88th District, I oppose House Bill 1947. Coding is fundamentally different from spoken and written world languages. According to ACTFL, “Although we use the term programming language to refer to C++, Java, Python, a typical computing language has a vocabulary of about 100 words. French, Japanese and Spanish are languages with a vocabulary of approximately 100,000 words”. World languages allow students to communicate and interact not only with other speakers of the language, but also with authentic resources through interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational contexts. Coding does not afford students opportunities for meaningful communication and does not focus on communicative competence. Language learning reflects the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Students who study world languages also learn invaluable soft skills, such as interpersonal communication which involves listening and adjusting what you say accordingly ; possessing and understanding different points of view; empathy; critical thinking; and making connections across complex ideas. Recently Google announced that “The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.” (Washington Post). If one of the world’s top tech companies is placing more emphasis on the soft skills, does this not indicate the importance of language learning and the skills that world language educators are instilling in their students on a daily basis? It is not only Google that sees the importance of these soft skills fostered in the language classroom. By placing a focus on soft skills, as well as 21st century skills, we are preparing language students to be ready for the competitive global society in which we live. In addition to marketability, learning a language has a multitude of other benefits for students. Language learning supports academic achievement in myriad ways, including higher standardized test scores (especially in math and science), increased ability to hypothesize, and improved reading abilities (ACTFL). Furthermore, learning a foreign language can improve literacy in one’s native language. This awareness can carry over to to an individual’s first language, making them a better speaker and writer—skills whose utility cannot be denied and cannot be fostered by learning code. In order for students to be successful in the global society, they need to develop a sense of interculturality. In the language classroom, students learn to understand and appreciate other cultures and how those cultures relate to their own. Students’ perceptions of the world change and they become more understanding of others. Coding does not afford students any opportunities to develop cultural competence. Language truly is a product of a culture, and the knowledge that comes with learning different ways of seeing the world is something that we need more of in today's society. I urge you to oppose HB 1947 as ALL VA students need to learn a world language! Heidi Trude

Last Name: McDonough Locality: Fairfax

Our experiences during the COVID pandemic have highlighted the negative impact that a lack of human interaction can have on us. Setting up a system which allows students with special needs to replace graduation credits for world language study with computer science credits will effectively result in their choosing (or being steered) into coursework that further isolates them from human interaction. Additional study of and practice with communication is likely what they need, and I fear that adults who find working with students who have learning challenges affecting their communication skills can use this “easy option” to sidetrack students with such challenges. Computer science and coding classes should not be used as childcare for “difficult” students; in reality, these students will likely benefit most from a greater quantity and breadth of experience with human communication, and less being plugged into electronic devices. While I see value in computer science classes and have no desire for their cancellation, it is my experience as an educator that our children, even those of high school age, need to be coached towards leading a balanced life and avoiding one that is laser-focused on technology to the detriment of other human pursuits.

Last Name: Prokopchak Locality: LEESBURG

World Languages courses are designed for students to learn more than words in French, Latin, or German. Students learn history, culture, and communication while learning to read, listen, and make themselves understood. These nuances of language courses are not emphasized in computer coding classes. In fact, many people who have devoted their careers or free time to coding languages will tell you that communication with others is often neglected. Recently I was speaking with a coding teacher colleague. He was saying that he, his students, and the vast majority of people in his industry need to be forced to learn communication skills, which they lack to their social detriment. He completely disagreed with equating coding to World Language. In a coding classroom, there is little opportunity for putting literature into historical context, for interacting with peers and adults from cultures different from your own, for empathizing and speaking about personal experiences. He said that some people sought out coding classes specifically so they would not have to use these skills. Although coding is a skill that is relevant and lucrative in the 21st Century, it is not a "21st Century Skill" that employers universally demand like the ability to empathize, work on a team, and communicate. World Languages courses help students learn to empathize because they become intimately familiar with cultures that are not their own. World Languages courses help students learn to work on a team because language is rooted in dialogue. World Languages courses help student learn to communicate because they expand English vocabularies and force students to choose words with intention. Computer coding and World Language courses are completely different in their process and outcome. They teach students vastly different skills and should never be conflated. Please do not vote in favor of this bill.

Last Name: Lubin Locality: Lexington

I strongly urge you NOT to enact the proposed changes the Article D(20) of § 22.1-253.13:4. Standard 4. Student achievement and graduation requirements per HB1947. Those changes would undermine a crucial feature of education in Virginia. Despite the conceptual analogy between natural languages and computer languages, they are fundamentally different in nature, purpose, and function. Natural human languages are the “operating system” of human thought, expression, and culture. Teaching students to learn and use a new language has many benefits: it expands their horizons of knowledge and understanding about the world around them, gives them new perspective on the language and cultural mileu they acquired in childhood, and provdes a unique opportunity to build practical skills that have many real-world applications: effective communication across barriers, understanding how others think and see the world, giving people skills to succeed in many enterprises and businesses that involve people from various places and walks of life. Learning computer coding (i.e., learning a computer language) certainly also has intellectual and practical benefits, similar to math, sciences, technical training, etc. But is no substitute for learning a human language. The decline of language study in the U.S. is already a pernicious problem, putting Americans at an increasing disadvantage in comparison with our peers in other countries. Let's not make matters worse in Virginia.

Last Name: Kim Locality: Fairfax

World languages are DISTINCT from "computer coding languages." Computer coding languages do NOT have a culture. Computer coding is arguably more of a tool than a language. Languages are life and ways for people who are living to communicate and comprehend one another. Please do not make this ludicrous decision to allow computer coding languages as a world language requirement. Please. Also, you spelled "character" incorrectly. What it reads above the comment box: "Written Feedback: (Maximum 3500 Charcter Limit)."

Last Name: Berman Organization: ACTFL Locality: Columbia, MD

My name is Howie Berman and I am the Executive Director of ACTFL, an individual membership organization of more than 13,000 world language educators in the U.S. and across the globe. ACTFL is based in Alexandria, VA. I submit this written testimony in opposition of HB1947. As written, the bill would require "the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities”. What HB1947 does is force students in the Old Dominion to make a false choice between computer coding and world languages. Students should be encouraged to pursue both, as both are essential to competing and succeeding in our 21st century global society. Further, computer coding and world language coursework are not equivalent or interchangeable—in neither the processes they employ nor the results they yield. World language coursework prepares students to communicate effectively in multiple languages and across numerous cultural contexts with an understanding of diverse perspectives on a variety of issues. World languages promote enhanced cognition, problem-solving, and critical thinking, as well as improved communication skills, heightened tolerance, and empathy. These skills promote career-readiness, supported by recent findings which point to an increasing and urgent demand for multilingual talent in our workforce—with 90% of U.S. employers citing reliance on employees with language skills other than English (“Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers,” ACTFL, 2019). Computer coding is not a method of expressing thoughts or feelings and does not meet the standards outlined in the “World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages” (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015). Coding credits are also not accepted universally by colleges and universities to fulfill world language entry requirements. As put bluntly by Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, a nonprofit whose goal is to expand access to computer science for all students in K-12 schools: “Code.org opposes the idea of classifying computer science as a foreign language. […] The only people who would suggest that computer science is akin to learning a foreign language have never coded before.” I find it especially disheartening that HB 1947 specifically seek this credit substitution for children with disabilities, singling out an individual group of students under the assumption that they be somehow less college- or career-ready than their peers without disabilities. I invite you to consult the Virginia Department of Education's 2017 guidebook, "Supporting World Language Learning for Students with Disabilities," as well as empirical research whose data show no special relationship between world language learning and students with learning disabilities (for example: “Myths About Foreign Language Learning and Learning Disabilities,” Richard L. Sparks, 2016). We must stop these outdated myths from distorting the educational opportunities available to our children: Language learning is for all students. HB 1947 promotes a misleading and out-of-date concept that would ultimately disadvantage both our learners and our greater communities. I sincerely hope that you will join me in seeking and supporting more effective ways to enhance our students' education.

Last Name: Scinicariello Organization: Foreign Language Association of Virginia Locality: Henrico County, VA

To the SOL and SOQ Subcommittee of the House Education Committee: I write in opposition to HB 1947, which would "provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities. Such requirement replaces a narrower provision in current law that requires the Board to permit a student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language to substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language." I oppose this bill for several reasons. 1. This bill sends a message to students with disabilities that they are unable to benefit from the study of a world language. That is simply not true. Students with disabilities can, with appropriate accommodation, excel in language classes; Virginia’s Department of Education has developed resources for teachers. Dr. Wade Edwards, Associate Dean of Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of French at Longwood University, is a researcher in disability and language instruction. He points out that students with disabilities need the skills taught in language classes: how to look at languages systematically, which results in better use of their first language, and how to collaborate and communicate with diverse populations and cultures. These are skills that all employers seek. 2. This bill creates a false equivalency between world languages and computer coding. I have spent my career at the intersection of world languages and technology and know that the two teach different skills. Digital literacy, including computer coding, is an essential skill for all, a fact recognized by the K-12 SOLs for the integration of digital skills throughout the curriculum. Computer coding, however, does not teach the ability to interact with other human beings in a multilingual, multicultural world. This essential ability is taught within world language courses. 3. At a practical level, proficiency in world languages is essential to success in all economic domains. Research reports that nine of ten American employers rely on employees with world language skills; one in four employers report having lost business because they lack employees with the necessary skills. Every occupation--from farming to robotics--is involved in global exchanges of products and information that require intercultural communication. Virginia has recognized this in its Profile of a Graduate, which sets the goal for all Virginia high school graduates to “build connections and value for interactions with diverse communities.” World language instruction helps students meet this goal. 4. This bill is an unnecessary expansion of the current law, which was passed in 2020. Before this provision is expanded, the current law should be given the time to address the needs of the rare students who need a world language accommodation credit. For these reasons I urge you to defeat HB 1947. Not recognizing the value of world language instruction disadvantages all Virginians. Thank you, Sharon Scinicariello, Ph.D. Advocacy Chair, Foreign Language Association of Virginia Director Emerita, Global Studio, University of Richmond

Last Name: Bonner Locality: Prince William County

It would be a tragedy for HB 1947 to pass. Coding is not a world language inclusive of the culture of the people who use it, which is the significant marking of language for study. It would be a disgrace for coding to be included among world languages as an option for advanced diploma requirements because it does not build the modalities that true world languages do. Additionally, it would deprive students from the experience of the important lessons in cultural awareness and competency, decoding, communicating, and developing critical thinking - imperative skills in our world. Do your part to help: help students access actual world languages and cultures, help increase empathetic citizens in a global society, help continue traditions of excellence in education provided by the incredible teachers of world languages; help do that and so much more by striking down HB 1947 immediately and unapologetically.

Last Name: Smith Organization: CCPS and FLAVA Locality: Chesterfield

World language educators and computer professionals maintain that computer coding, although important, cannot teach the same essential skills as world language instruction.  In addition, WL instruction benefits ALL students, and there is research to support this belief. A computer coding course is not equivalent to a WL course for these reasons: 1. Computer coding does not allow students to gain intercultural skills, insight, and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. It doesnt meet the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015) 2. Computer coding cant be used by people to interact and negotiate meaning with others 3. Computer coding cannot be used to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between products, practices, and perspectives of a culture through language. Languages provide historical connections to society and culture and have been around for centuries, gathering elements of culture, preserving stories, and for human communication. In comparison to most languages with about 10,000 vocabulary words and grammar structures, coding doest use large numbers of words or use them in the same ways.  "Typical computing language has a vocabulary of about 100 words, and the real work is learning how to put these words together.” (Hirotaka, 2014) Merriam-Webster provides the following definition of language: a system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. Coding doest express thoughts or feelings. Colleges and universities vary in their policies for accepting computer coding as fulfilling students' WL entry requirements. Computer coding is part of computer science, which is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement and is more related to math and science than languages. “Code.org formally opposes the idea of classifying computer science as a foreign language. First off, 'computer coding’ isn’t what we should teach students. ‘Computer science’ is what we should teach. Just like in English class we don’t teach just handwriting and grammar, we teach English literature and composition. Learning ‘coding’ is just one part of computer science. Learning algorithm design, computational thinking, how the Internet works, data analysis, cybersecurity, these are equally important aspects of computer science, and none of it, not even the coding, has anything to do with learning a foreign language. The only people who would suggest that computer science is akin to learning a foreign language have never coded before.” Hadi Partovi, CEO, Code.org Delegate Mark Levine, VA House of Delegates, serves Alexandria, Arlington & Fairfax "Coding is an incredibly important 21st century skill for our kids to learn, and that is why we spend so much time trying to teach it. But I don't believe it is the same or even really comparable to learning a foreign language. It would be a shame to lose something so important for the sake of adding something else, even something as important as coding. Clearly, education leaders must figure out a way to teach both."

Last Name: Thomas Locality: Fairfax County

Please support this bill because it is NOT about eliminating foreign language. Most students in the state of Virginia will still be required to take, and will want to take, foreign languages. And, many students with disabilities will choose to do the same because of the colleges they want to attend, because of their families’ desires, or because they like languages and want them as part of their educational transcript. Please support this bill because it IS about giving some kids a choice – and control over their high school education. This bill is ONLY for kids with IEPs and 504s. These kids (and their families) have been through a state-approved committee review and have been deemed eligible for support or accommodations. This bill gives that small subset of students an option, a choice, the ability to advocate for what they need while maintaining the ability to achieve Virginia’s esteemed Advanced Diploma. Please grant this option for these students. .

Last Name: Kuehl Organization: Decoding Dyslexia of VA Locality: Fairfax County

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: I ask for your support of HB1947. As a parent of a talented and driven student with dyslexia, I believe there is a need for an alternate path to the advanced diploma. I am not making an argument for computer science or against foreign language, or that one is equivalent to the other. This bill provides options for the students where the negative impact of struggling through three or four years of world language(s) outweigh the benefits. Raising bright students with dyslexia is complicated, especially when trying to navigate the public school system. As parents, we don’t look through the lens of whether world language acquisition is theoretically possible. We look through the lens of the health and well-being of our children. Our goal is to raise well-balanced, empathetic, independent adults who have the self-esteem and confidence to tackle the adult world that is ahead of them. For some, four years of world language does not help put them on a path to success. In fact, it does the opposite. It hits them with repeated frustration, anxiety, or failure at a time when many are only just approaching proficiency in their native language due to lack of identification and/or appropriate remediation/support in school. This bill provides one OPTION for SOME of these college-bound students (who do not have IEPs) to obtain academic success and recognition. Please help more of these students succeed! Dyslexia impacts an individual's ability to learn a foreign language…. https://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/foreign_language/resources/world-language-swd.pdf Dyslexia and anxiety go hand in hand…. https://dyslexiaida.org/the-dyslexia-stress-anxiety-connection/ http://www.ldonline.org/article/19296/ The balancing act between anxiety and overall academic functioning that parents have to consider as we help our kids navigate class choices…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hei_FDu2K0I&feature=emb_logo Twice-exceptional learners are a small and unique group of students that need to focus on their strengths…. https://www.fcps.edu/node/37839 In 2020 less than 10% of students with disabilities earned an advanced diploma…. https://schoolquality.virginia.gov/virginia-state-quality-profile#desktopTabs-4

Last Name: Hatfield Locality: Suffolk, Virginia

As a long-time educator, member of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, and board member of the American Association of Teachers of French- Virginia chapter, I am concerned about the proposed change to allow computer coding to replace world language classes for some students. Given that our goals include providing students with the cultural and linguistic tools necessary to help them to participate in a global society, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we, instead, work to make the curriculum available to all students through differentiated instuction and learning accommodations.

Last Name: Mrs. Farley Organization: mother of 3 children who are all of average/above average intelligence and who all have dyslexia Locality: Fairfax County, VA

Languages consists of signs, symbols, characters and sounds. Dyslexia is a permanent, neurobiological condition that interferes with a persons brains ability to put together these signs, symbols, characters and sounds and use language to communicate. Dyslexia runs on a continuum from mild to severe. The more severe the underlying dyslexia, the more likely it will interfere with all areas of communicating with language including reading language, writing, language, speaking language and listening to language. Coding is simply put, the language computers use to communicate. Coding requires the human programmers to be precise and pay meticulous attention to detail. Coding is a very structured, unforgiving language. Please explain to me, why the lawmakers in VA insist on requiring children who have a permanent neurobiological condition that interferes with using language to communicate, learn a second language in order to graduate with an advanced diploma?

Last Name: Preusse-Burr Organization: Virginia Dual Language Educators Network (VADLEN) Locality: Fairfax County, Fairfax

Members of the House Education Committee, The members of the Virginia Dual Language Educators Network (VADLEN) are opposed to the possible substitution of world language credits with computer programming courses as outlined in HB 1947 as it seeks to undermine students’ readiness and cultural compatibility to compete in a global society. While we recognize that students in VA should be able to acquire computer coding skills in order to be competitive in the job market, computer coding coursework is not equivalent to world language coursework. The goal of world language coursework is to prepare students to communicate effectively in multiple languages and across multifaceted cultural contexts with an understanding of diverse perspectives on local, national and global issues, skills critical for success in an increasingly global society. Thousands of Virginia students who are learning in Dual Language/Immersion programs are acquiring academic, sociocultural, linguistic, and cognitive proficiency in at least two languages and many will also benefit from computer coding to prepare for their futures. World language and computer coding are both valuable skillsets that are very distinct from each other. Professionals in both world language and computer coding fields are opposed to the conflation of both skills. The increasingly global marketplace places a high value on proficiency in another language, even providing additional pay to employees for service members with knowledge of languages other than English. Universities seek applicants who are culturally competent and prepared for the rigors of continued study of a world language, with most universities expecting applicants to have completed at least four years of world language study. Furthermore, VADLEN is especially disheartened that HB 1947 seeks the substitution of computer coding credit for world language credit for “children with disabilities,” singling out an individual group of Virginia students to be less college and career ready and ill-prepared to compete in the global marketplace. Therefore, VADLEN is opposing HB 1947 as substituting computer coding coursework for world language instruction would be a grave disservice to all students of the Commonwealth of Virginia who will lack critical language and cultural competency skills to compete in a global economy. Virginia students need and deserve both world language skills and computer skills not either or. Beatrix Preusse-Burr President, Virginia Dual Language Educator's Network (VADLEN)

Last Name: Hicks Organization: Cca-tidewater Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Locality: Norfolk

Tidewater Connection Alumni Association represents children and Communities primarily in the 757, specifically Norfolk. Systemic Racism with in has caused widespread problems. Two schools in the Berkley and Campostella school district of Norfolk are in the bottom ten schools of all schools in Virginia. Funding is need to uplift the Educational providence of Southside STEM Academy at Campostella and St.Helena ranked even lower. It has also been brought to attention that Special Needs Children are in Dyer need of State if not Federal intervention. I.E.P.'s are either not being followed, or the conditions identified are not be serviced to the fullest extent of the law. We ask for outside audit with input from parents and the Not For Profit Organization, cca-tidewater, Tidewater Connection Alumni Association Barrett Hicks, Executive Director tcaa757@gmail.com or tidewaterconnection4all@aol.com

Last Name: Scinicariello Organization: Foreign Language Association of Virginia Locality: Henrico County, Virginia

To the SOL and SOQ Subcommittee of the House Education Committee: I write in opposition to HB 1947, which would "provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities. Such requirement replaces a narrower provision in current law that requires the Board to permit a student who is pursuing an advanced diploma and whose individualized education program specifies a credit accommodation for world language to substitute two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a world language." I oppose this bill for several reasons. 1. This bill sends a message to students with disabilities that they are unable to benefit from the study of a world language. That is simply not true. Students with disabilities can, with appropriate accommodation, excel in language classes; Virginia’s Department of Education has developed resources for teachers. Dr. Wade Edwards, Associate Dean of Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of French at Longwood University, is a researcher in disability and language instruction. He points out that students with disabilities need the skills taught in language classes: how to look at languages systematically, which results in better use of their first language, and how to collaborate and communicate with diverse populations and cultures. These are skills that all employers seek. 2. This bill creates a false equivalency between world languages and computer coding. I have spent my career at the intersection of world languages and technology and know that the two teach different skills. Digital literacy, including computer coding, is an essential skill for all, a fact recognized by the K-12 SOLs for the integration of digital skills throughout the curriculum. Computer coding, however, does not teach the ability to interact with other human beings in a multilingual, multicultural world. This essential ability is taught within world language courses. 3. At a practical level, proficiency in world languages is essential to success in all economic domains. Research reports that nine of ten American employers rely on employees with world language skills; one in four employers report having lost business because they lack employees with the necessary skills. Every occupation--from farming to robotics--is involved in global exchanges of products and information that require intercultural communication. Virginia has recognized this in its Profile of a Graduate, which sets the goal for all Virginia high school graduates to “build connections and value for interactions with diverse communities.” World language instruction helps students meet this goal. 4. This bill is an unnecessary expansion of the current law, which was passed in 2020. Before this provision is expanded, the current law should be given the time to address the needs of the rare students who need a world language accommodation credit. For these reasons I urge you to defeat HB 1947. Not recognizing the value of world language instruction disadvantages all Virginians. Thank you, Sharon Scinicariello, Ph.D. Advocacy Chair, Foreign Language Association of Virginia Director Emerita, Global Studio, University of Richmond

Last Name: Blouwolff Locality: Brookline MA

HB1947 is a bill that threatens to further narrow opportunities for Virginia students with disabilities. As the 2020 National Language Teacher of the Year, I believe that our most vulnerable learners deserve the very best that schools have to offer. Students with disabilities deserve to know the world in the deep and substantive way that's possible only when exploring it without translation or subtitles. Since the ability to communicate with all sorts of people is essential in the 21st Century workplace, then students with disabilities should not be cheated of the opportunity to develop this skill. World Language classes are unique because they teach communication as their primary subject matter. Whether or not a student goes on to major in a World Language in college, he or she will benefit from stronger communication skills and a more nuanced understanding of global cultures. This is not a skill needed only by those who travel internationally. Today, the globe is at our doorstep: sitting next to us on the bus, in our classrooms, and at the workplace. Every young person in Virginia today will benefit from studying a second language. Language-learning yields many cognitive benefits beyond multilingualism: higher scores on standardized tests, better reading abilities, and a greater ability to hypothesize in science. Multilingual people routinely outperform monolinguals in many domains. If we are to respect the rights of students with disabilities, we must meet our obligation to educate them in today's essential skills. Anything less is a failure to provide full educational opportunity to the next generation of Virginians.

Last Name: Haines Organization: Global Virginia Locality: Richmond

I oppose VA HB 1947. While I am not an educator, I firmly believe in high standards of education. This proposed legislation reduces those high standards. There are national security, economic, business, and academic issues at risk with passage of this legislation. Having recently retired from the Intelligence Community as a senior executive and having spent over twenty years in the U.S. Army, I know firsthand the essential value and necessity of a global world view. For our national security, and global competitiveness it is imperative we understand the other through their national, ethnic and cultural lens. Knowing the other by having language skills, cultural competence and regional knowledge has a direct and positive impact to the success of maintaining and defending our international interests and homeland security. Our nation’s business and economic success depends on successive generations of leaders –now students, to effectively communicate not only in English but in at least one other world language. Business and industries involved in import and export rely heavily on employees with language savvy and cultural awareness. This legislation undermines Virginia’s efforts to teach, nurture and grow the next generation of leaders to be globally competitive. Academically, most Virginia colleges and universities, and many out-of-state universities either expect or require incoming students to have at least two or more years of world language study and will not recognize computer coding courses as sufficient to fulfill those world language requirements. This may likely affect students with disabilities to have an equal opportunity in the college entrance process. Countless studies and research indicate the educational and cognitive benefits of learning a second language: critical thinking, mental flexibility, expanded creativity, divergent thinking as well as improved listening and memory skills. If passed, this bill will severely harm world language programs throughout the Commonwealth and take away opportunities for students to study a world language by reducing budgets, the number of language programs, more students in a class, and fewer opportunities to study at higher levels of proficiency. The movement to recognize computer coding as a substitute or alternative to a foreign language has another damaging consequence: it allows two completely unrelated disciplines to satisfy the same credit for graduation. This is a dangerous, precedent between unrelated disciplines and opens debate over which subjects are more important than others. The premise of this legislation is fundamentally flawed and makes a false equivalent between world language study and computer coding. No doubt, computer coding is a valuable skill, it however does not allow the learner to gain the essential intercultural skills, insights, perspective taking and sense making crucial to know how to effectively communicate. Coding cannot be used to interact and negotiate with people. The coding and technology community suggests that coding be placed among the sciences and mathematics as a field of study, and not in world languages. Both deserve a place of study and learning, but not at the expense of one for the other. Coding is part of the larger field of computer science, which is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement. Sincerely Thomas J. Haines President, Global Virginia

Last Name: Bayliss Locality: Goochland

The recent proposed law allowing a student with a disability to replace foreign language with coding is part of a pro-computer, anti-humanity trend I see in education in Virginia. As a former foreign language instructor with an advanced degree, I was sorry to see language instructors in public high schools given far two many course preparations to make, as well as far too many students to teach in teach class. Some teachers teach four or even five DIFFERENT classes, with 26-30 students in each class. THIS is where the difficulty with foreign language teaching in Virginia arises, and it will not be solved by switching some foreign language courses for coding classes. Europeans are coming to take highly compensating jobs in foreign language interpretation and translation in the U.S. because our students are ill-served by such large classes and such overloaded teachers. It's a great idea to offer coding in schools, but not as a replacement for human language. Thank you for serving in the governing body, and may you be guided by a desire to see Virginia's children succeed.

Last Name: Seewald Organization: Joint National Committee for Languages - National Council for International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) Locality: Garrett Park, MD

On behalf of our members, I write to you today to oppose the substitution of world language credits with computer coding courses outlined in HB 1947. We believe that this legislation proceeds from three deeply flawed premises, namely: that world language study has no benefit to high school students, particularly students with disabilities; that the study of computer coding and world languages is essentially the same and that one can be substituted for another; and that biliteracy is irrelevant to the workplace. We could not disagree more. Knowledge of a second language has been shown to confer a wide array of cognitive benefits on the individual at all life stages. In early childhood, acquisition of a second language has strong, positive behavioral and developmental effects, including greater cognitive flexibility and improved problem solving. In K-12 schools, language education, particularly the growing trend of dual language immersion, improves test scores for native English speakers and English learners alike and narrows achievement gaps. Virginia’s colleges and universities recognize these benefits as most require or strongly recommend that high school students pursue two to three years of world language study. Language proficiency has been associated with stronger executive function in the brain, greater likelihood of recovery from stroke, and delayed onset of Dementia-related ailments. Further, studying computer coding and world languages are fundamentally dissimilar activities, yielding results that are not equivalent. While computer coding is unquestionably a valuable skill, it’s study does not allow students to gain the intercultural skills and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. Unlike world language study, computer coding cannot be used by people to interact and negotiate with other people. Finally, we must note that the coding community itself suggests that the most logical place to locate coding would be among the sciences and mathematics, not in world languages. Finally, we assert that the bill’s underlying assumption that businesses value computer coding skills and view world language skills as irrelevant is belied by the facts. A 2019 report from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, entitled “Making Language Our Business,” found the following: 9 out of 10 US employers rely on employees with world language skills;1 in 3 foreign language-dependent employers reports a language skills gap;the construction sector (40%) and healthcare and social assistance sector (37%) report the greatest foreign language skills gap; 1 in 4 employers lost business due to a lack of foreign language skill. If enacted, HB 1947 would steer students with disabilities away from world language study and potential workforce opportunities to their own detriment and to that of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy. All Virginia students need and deserve world language skills. Substituting computer coding for world languages will put Virginia’s high school students at a significant disadvantage in school, in the workplace and throughout their lives. To protect every student's right to a free and equal education that prepares them for success, JNCL-NCLIS opposes HB 1947. Amanda Seewald President

Last Name: Staudt Locality: Barhamsville

We oppose bill 1947! Every year we are revisiting this issue. Coding is no substitute for learning a World Language. All students can learn a language, and need to acquire intercultural competence to be career ready. Students with disabilities do very well in the World Language classroom and not only learn about different cultures and language, but also learn about collaboration, and develop global competence. Virginia is falling behind. SC, NC, GA, DL, and many more other states invest in World Language programs, since decades of research show that programs such as Dual Immersion helps to close the achievement gap. Data shows that all students improve academic performance. So further restricting World Language access to our most vulnerable students borderlines educational malpractice. Please oppose this bill. Bettina Staudt

Last Name: Berman Organization: ACTFL (Alexandria, VA) Locality: Columbia, MD

My name is Howie Berman and I am the Executive Director of ACTFL, an individual membership organization of more than 13,000 world language educators in the U.S. and across the globe. ACTFL is based in Alexandria, VA. I submit this written testimony in opposition of HB1947. As written, the bill would require "the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to provide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities”. What HB1947 does is force students in the Old Dominion to make a false choice between computer coding and world languages. Students should be encouraged to pursue both, as both are essential to competing and succeeding in our 21st century global society. Further, computer coding and world language coursework are not equivalent or interchangeable—in neither the processes they employ nor the results they yield. World language coursework prepares students to communicate effectively in multiple languages and across numerous cultural contexts with an understanding of diverse perspectives on a variety of issues. World languages promote enhanced cognition, problem-solving, and critical thinking, as well as improved communication skills, heightened tolerance, and empathy. These skills promote career-readiness, supported by recent findings which point to an increasing and urgent demand for multilingual talent in our workforce—with 90% of U.S. employers citing reliance on employees with language skills other than English (“Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers,” ACTFL, 2019). Computer coding is not a method of expressing thoughts or feelings and does not meet the standards outlined in the “World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages” (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015). Coding credits are also not accepted universally by colleges and universities to fulfill world language entry requirements. As put bluntly by Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, a nonprofit whose goal is to expand access to computer science for all students in K-12 schools: “Code.org opposes the idea of classifying computer science as a foreign language. […] The only people who would suggest that computer science is akin to learning a foreign language have never coded before.” I find it especially disheartening that HB 1947 specifically seek this credit substitution for children with disabilities, singling out an individual group of students under the assumption that they be somehow less college- or career-ready than their peers without disabilities. I invite you to consult the Virginia Department of Education's 2017 guidebook, "Supporting World Language Learning for Students with Disabilities," as well as empirical research whose data show no special relationship between world language learning and students with learning disabilities (for example: “Myths About Foreign Language Learning and Learning Disabilities,” Richard L. Sparks, 2016). We must stop these outdated myths from distorting the educational opportunities available to our children: Language learning is for all students. HB 1947 promotes a misleading and out-of-date concept that would ultimately disadvantage both our learners and our greater communities. I sincerely hope that you will join me in seeking and supporting more effective ways to enhance our students' education.

Last Name: Duncan Organization: Decoding Dyslexia Virginia Locality: Fairfax

Good afternoon, Delegates of the House Education SOL and SOQ subcommittee. My name is Shannon Duncan and I am a founding member of Decoding Dyslexia Virginia. My passion for support for students with dyslexia began 9 years ago when my daughter was privately diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD in 3rd grade. She is a bright young woman who is not wired for reading which should NOT diminish her ability to achieve amazing things during her academic career and beyond. She is headed off to UVA next fall, having been accepted through the early decision process. Because we privately diagnosed her, privately remediated her, educated her teachers along the way and supplied her assistive technology, she had a chance at achieving academic success. My daughter, Carter, tried Spanish in 7th grade at Longfellow Middle School and was successful in learning the curriculum. She went on to earn her 3 years of a foreign language that allowed for her advanced diploma. I believe wholeheartedly, that no child should be diverted from Virginia's highest levels of academic success because they are not wired to process language like 80% of their peers who are wired for reading. Children with disabilities, who have both IEPs and 504 Plans, who excel in computer science, but not foreign language, ought to be able to pivot to that curriculum in order to earn an advanced diploma. Our children are different, not less and ought not to have road blocks set in the way as they work to achieve academic excellence. It will be important to allow equal access to this advanced diploma for all students with disabilities that are interested in achieving it. By supporting HB1947, you will be opening doors for students like my daughter, whose disability makes academic success a harder road to travel. I am always available to answer questions on this topic and others, as it relates to literacy. Feel free to reach out at shannonbduncan@gmail.com. I appreciate your service to our state and value your work. Best regards, Shannon Duncan Decoding Dyslexia Virginia (703) 967-0478

Last Name: Spitnale Locality: Virginia Beach

Foreign language should be a requirement of all students. It’s imperative for a forever-changing and evolving world. The United States is multicultural and we should welcome and reflect that in our public school systems; not just for one group of children, but it should be a requirement for all children. Those with disabilities should be given the opportunity to complete a typical advanced diploma curriculum requirement. Everyone is capable, and those who feel that they do not wish to take that path, should then be offered an alternative. If gone, you are sending the message that SWD cannot meet the rigorous advanced diploma requirements.

Last Name: Murphy-Judy Organization: FLAVA Locality: Chesterfield

Every year we come back to a bill like this attempting to reduce world language education requirements; yet, every year, the need for multilingual, multi-literate Virginia citizens grows. Right now, our state lacks the bilingual and culturally competent workers it needs in government, industry, and education. Language diversity exists both outside and inside Virginia. English only ability limits a Virginian to knowing only half the story of what is going on. It limits the Virginian's strategies for dealing with issues that are global i scope to paltry English-only thinking: that is a major deficit in a world where most national education systems demand fluency in at least two languages. If nothing else, the bi- and multi-lingual and interculturally competent young adults from other countries are the ones getting the good jobs with upward mobility. Once again, this bill equates coding and computer language programming with a full blown linguistic system. They are not equivalent. I have known programming languages since I was 17 (Fortran) when I programmed my first computer (a mainframe at the University of Denver) in 1969. I was coding html back in 1995, when the WWW launched. I have been teaching French since 1973. There is no comparison. There is especially no comparison in brain functioning. Learning a foreign language exercises brain cells and makes connections across our grey matter; coding and programming are far more restricted in their benefits. Language learning also increases empathy, emotional intelligence and social skills: Virginia needs citizens who can communicate across ways of seeing and being in the world. I hear too often people saying that Google and AI can do all the translation. Today's news (RTD and NPR) 1/15/21 carried the following headline: "Virginia uses Google Translate for COVID vaccine information. Here's how that magnifies language barriers, misinformation." As a language professor, I can 'smell' a Google translation that a student submits from a mile away: it is not 'real' French. It misses metaphor, nuance, idiomatic expressions. So much for the claim that programming will give us immediate and comprehensible translation and interpretation. Virginia recently hosted a day long summit called Global Virginia. Key individuals from government, industry, and education convened to work with attendees from across the Commonwealth to discover where we are in Virginia and, importantly, where we need to be . . . soon. The upshot was NOT to replace world language education by coding but rather to promote, enhance and facilitate global skills across the board. Let us not take several steps back by passing HB 1947, which more rightly comes from 1947, but rather keep Virginia moving forward in this, the multilingual, multicultural, global world we inhabit.

Last Name: Baldwin Organization: Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) Locality: Winston Salem, NC

Members of the SOL and SOQ Subcommittee, I am Dr. Leslie Baldwin, the Executive Director of the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT). Comprised of 13 states, including Virginia, SCOLT is the regional professional organization for K-16 language educators. Virginia is a key member state in our organization, and our 2022 annual conference is scheduled to be held in Norfolk, in partnership with the Foreign Language Association of Virginia. With 22 years of experience with language education, I am a district coordinator for World Languages, as well as an adjunct professor in the education departments at Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I am contacting you today regarding HB 1947, which addresses computer coding and languages. There are no circumstances under which coding can be considered a world, or foreign, language. Coding is certainly a challenging field, and one which we need students to pursue. However, it should not fulfill any language study requirement. Language study involves five national standards: Communication, Connections, Comparisons, Culture, and Communities. Virginia’s state standards for World Languages are based on these national standards, as is the case for many other states. The skills involved in computer coding do not address any of these standards. The Communication standard is extremely important in language learning. Students learn to use languages other than English to communicate with people in their own communities, as well as around the world. Students who gain high skill levels in the language can use this as a marketable skill, making them highly competitive for positions with many businesses. In a 2018 national study of 1,200 U.S. employers, 9 out of 10 reported that they rely on employees with language skills other than English. They were not referring to computer coding. They were referring to spoken and written language skills. One in four of those surveyed reported lost business due to a lack of world (foreign) language skills, and 56% said that their demand for these skills would increase in the next five years. (www.leadwithlanguages.org/report) The other standards are equally important. Through the Connections and Comparisons standards, language learners enhance their knowledge and understanding of English, while learning the other language. They also study aspects of other content areas, such as Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics, through their language learning. The Culture and Communities standards help language learners to gain socio-cultural skills which are critical in today’s society. There is certainly demand for computer coding skills in many sectors. However, that demand should not be confused or equated with the need for graduates with language skills. These are two very different content areas, and one is not like the other in any way. Computer coding cannot address the standards I have briefly explained, therefore coding cannot replace the study of languages other than English. Thank you for your consideration of these comments. Sincerely, Leslie Baldwin, Ed.D. Executive Director, SCOLT

Last Name: Wulfekuhle-Zaweski Locality: Colonial Heights

Please stop trying to replace foreign langauge with coding. It should not be one or the other. Introduce bills that equally support both. We don't stop being citizens of the world just because the world is digital. The social-emotional, cultural, and ctritical thinking skills acquired while studying a new language are imperative to being a fully educated indivdual. Even students with leaning disabilities become bi-lingual because our brains are hard wired for langauge.

Last Name: Carson Organization: Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors Locality: Norfolk

On behalf of the Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors (VOWLS), I am writing to express our profound opposition to HB1947, to be considered in the SOL and SOQ subcommittee meeting this coming Monday morning, 1/19/21. This bill seeks to “[p]rovide for the substitution of computer coding course credit for any foreign language course credit required to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma for children with disabilities”. When I was in high school, I studied coding, learning Cobol, Basic, and Fortran, as well as French, and later Spanish. Personally, I value coding, but oppose its substitution for world language credits. Computer scientists and world language educators are in agreement that these disciplines are valuable and distinct, and should never be substituted one for the other. By conflating computer coding with world language learning, HB1947 would do students a grave disservice. Most four-year universities in Virginia require 2-3 of world language studies to apply for admission. In fact, top-tier schools across the nation such as Harvard and Duke require 3-4 years of world language studies for admission. Language study is valued because it develops both global competency and literacy, which in turn transfers to improve students’ English literacy. Languages connect people across our communities and the world in ways that coding cannot. Not only would this bill prevent many of our students from gaining admission to the four-year universities of their choice, but it would hamper their economic futures. Currently there is an acute need for speakers of world languages in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A quick study reveals that there are thousands of open positions for proficient world language speakers of American Sign Language, French, German, and Spanish, which are taught throughout Virginia’s public schools. As President of VOWLS, I join my voice with the administrators and employers who understand the economic value and the cognitive benefits of world language study. I hope that you consider our reasoned opposition as you discuss the bill Monday. Let’s set our students up for success in a globally competitive economy by ensuring they possess the linguistic skills and global competence to succeed. Cordially, Jennifer N. Carson President, Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors (VOWLS)

Last Name: Neumann Locality: Virginia Beach

Good morning. I am here to urge you to oppose house bill 1947 that would require school systems in the Commonwealth to allow students with disabilities pursuing an Advanced Diploma to substitute a computer coding course for the currently required world language courses. This bill should be opposed for several reasons. First, computer coding, while a language of sorts, does not promote intercultural understanding, human to human communication, or the development of tolerance and appreciation of cultural, racial, religious, and other human differences that are essential in our world today. Secondly, those who support this bill send a clear message to students with disabilities and that message is this: we do not believe you have what it takes to learn a world language and earn an advanced diploma. The sponsor of this bill does not understand world languages or students with disabilities. I am a lifelong learner who received special education services throughout my school years due to my learning disabilities. Had this bill been passed when I was in school, I may well have been denied the opportunities my language learning has offered me. I am a former French teacher who now serves as a world language instructional specialist. I have taught over a thousand students in my career and worked with some amazing language teachers. I have travelled the world and interacted with countless people from a wide array of languages and cultures all while using my language skills. To think that supporters of this bill would have denied me those experiences and are now seeking to deny current students similar opportunities is shameful and horrifying. A third reason to oppose this is stems from the fact that tech leaders throughout the country and the world have repeatedly stated that computer coding is not the same nor does it develop the same skills as a world language. They prefer students who will be entering their workforces to have interpersonal skills and the ability to accept diversity, which language courses can provide. Listen to the experts on the matter. This year is an election year for the house of delegates. Virginia’s teachers and her students are watching the decisions you make. Defeating this bill is a victory for Virginia students.

Last Name: Aldrich Locality: Harrisonburg

The intent of this bill is noble but the language does not actually add any new flexibility for students with disabilities. And, is a potential dangerous slippery slope to de-emphasizing world language education in the future. Currently, students with disabilities seeking a standard diploma do not have to take a world language course to graduate; computer coding would already satisfy the requirement for 2 credits in any of the "World Language, Fine Arts or Career and Technical Education" areas. Students with disabilities seeking an advanced studies diploma do currently need to take either 3 years of one world language or 2 years each of two languages. Substituting computer coding for this requirement would mean that students would need to take 3 years of sequential computer coding courses, or 2 years of coding and 2 years of a world language. Few if any divisions in Virginia offer a 2 or 3-year sequence of coding courses and thus is a moot point. Students with disabilities who take a computer coding course can already count it toward graduation requirements in other areas as well. Further, world language education is essential for all students including students with disabilities to fully develop their global awareness. De-emphasizing the value of world language education seems to be based on a stereotype that some students can't learn a new language which is demonstrably false and unfairly paints students with disabilities as less capable than they are. In Harrisonburg City where I work, many students with disabilities have excelled in courses like American Sign Language, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Italian and students with disabilities who are native or heritage speakers of Spanish especially benefit from developing their home-language skills. By all means, let's continue to emphasize the value of computer coding and computer science as a useful skill, but not at the expense of world language education which is vital for our students and our state. I urge you to vote against this bill.

Last Name: Trude Organization: FLAVA (Foreign Language Association of Virginia) Locality: Fauquier

As the 2019 ACTFL Language Teacher of the Year finalist, a world language educator, the President- Elect of FLAVA, and a Virginia resident of the 88th District, I oppose House Bill 1947. Coding is fundamentally different from spoken and written world languages. According to ACTFL, “Although we use the term programming language to refer to C++, Java, Python, a typical computing language has a vocabulary of about 100 words. French, Japanese and Spanish are languages with a vocabulary of approximately 100,000 words”. World languages allow students to communicate and interact not only with other speakers of the language, but also with authentic resources through interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational contexts. Coding does not afford students opportunities for meaningful communication and does not focus on communicative competence. Language learning reflects the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Students who study world languages also learn invaluable soft skills, such as interpersonal communication which involves listening and adjusting what you say accordingly ; possessing and understanding different points of view; empathy; critical thinking; and making connections across complex ideas. Recently Google announced that “The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.” (Washington Post). If one of the world’s top tech companies is placing more emphasis on the soft skills, does this not indicate the importance of language learning and the skills that world language educators are instilling in their students on a daily basis? By placing a focus on soft skills, as well as 21st century skills, we are preparing language students to be ready for the competitive global society in which we live. In addition to marketability, learning a language has a multitude of other benefits for students. Language learning supports academic achievement in myriad ways, including higher standardized test scores (especially in math and science), increased ability to hypothesize, and improved reading abilities (ACTFL). Furthermore, learning a foreign language can improve literacy in one’s native language. As one takes in the grammar rules, syntax, and other complexities of a new language, one’s knowledge of the mechanics of language improve. This awareness can carry over to to an individual’s first language, making them a better speaker and writer—skills whose utility cannot be denied and cannot be fostered by learning code. In order for students to be successful in the global society, they need to develop a sense of interculturality. In the language classroom, students learn to understand and appreciate other cultures and how those cultures relate to their own. Students’ perceptions of the world change and they become more understanding of others. Coding does not afford students any opportunities to develop cultural competence. Language truly is a product of a culture, and the knowledge that comes with learning different ways of seeing the world is something that we need more of in today's society. I urge you to consider these facts and vote against HB 1947.

Last Name: Smith Organization: CCPS and FLAVA Locality: Chestefifeld

World language educators and computer professionals maintain that computer coding, although important, cannot teach the same essential skills as world language instruction. In addition, WL instruction benefits ALL students, and there is research to support this belief. Coding course is not equivalent to a WL course for these reasons: 1. Computer coding does not allow students to gain intercultural skills, insight, and perspectives to know how, when, and why to express what to whom. It doesnt meet the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015) 2. Computer coding cant be used by people to interact and negotiate meaning with others 3. Computer coding cannot be used to investigate, explain, and reflect on the relationship between products, practices, and perspectives of a culture through language. Languages provide historical connections to society and culture and have been around for centuries, gathering elements of culture, preserving stories, and for human communication. In comparison to most languages with about 10,000 vocabulary words and grammar structures, coding doest use large numbers of words or use them in the same ways. "Typical computing language has a vocabulary of about 100 words, and the real work is learning how to put these words together.” (Hirotaka, 2014) Merriam-Webster provides the following definition of language: a system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. Coding doest express thoughts or feelings. Colleges and universities vary in their policies for accepting computer coding as fulfilling students' WL entry requirements. Computer coding is part of computer science, which is a critical 21st century subject and deserves its own graduation requirement and is more related to math and science than languages. “Code.org formally opposes the idea of classifying computer science as a foreign language. First off, 'computer coding’ isn’t what we should teach students. ‘Computer science’ is what we should teach. Just like in English class we don’t teach just handwriting and grammar, we teach English literature and composition. Learning ‘coding’ is just one part of computer science. Learning algorithm design, computational thinking, how the Internet works, data analysis, cybersecurity, these are equally important aspects of computer science, and none of it, not even the coding, has anything to do with learning a foreign language. The only people who would suggest that computer science is akin to learning a foreign language have never coded before.” Hadi Partovi, CEO, Code.org Delegate Mark Levine, VA House of Delegates, serves Alexandria, Arlington & Fairfax "Coding is an incredibly important 21st century skill for our kids to learn, and that is why we spend so much time trying to teach it. But I don't believe it is the same or even really comparable to learning a foreign language. It would be a shame to lose something so important for the sake of adding something else, even something as important as coding. Clearly, education leaders must figure out a way to teach both." Srini Mandyam, CTO and co-founder of instructional coding company Tynker “Code.org, Computing in the Core, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, the College Board, and the Computer Science Teachers Association and numerous other organizations, support a policy allowing computer science to count toward mathematics or science graduation requirements.”

Last Name: Ward Locality: Fairfax County

Please tie state education funding to the school system being back in person within two weeks of teachers being eligible for COVID vaccination. FCPS school board needs this jolt to get things moving. Dr. Brayband has submitted plan after plan to get our kids back in school only to be met with school board members that are puppets of the teachers federations. It is unethical to offer teachers the vaccinations without swiftly returning them to the classrooms five days a week. The consecutive elective graduation requirement may have been meant to give depth in a subject to a graduate. It really is stifling. Some students need to keep taking electives before the find one that sparks their interest for further education. My junior has really struggled with what to take to fulfill this requirement. She tried chorus. Nope, not her thing. She took a sociology class that she loved, but there was lot a follow on course. The requirement doesn't make sense if follow ons can't be offered for all electives. Please get rid of the consecutive elective graduation requirement starting with the class of 2022. Thank you for your time.

HB2093 - School Construction Fund and Program; created and established.
Last Name: Evans Organization: Greensville County Public Schools Locality: Chester

Members of the House Education – SOL SOQ Subcommittee Committee. I am Kim Evans, Division Superintendent of Greensville County Public Schools. I am a member of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools. The Coalition serves 78 of the 133 public school divisions in the Commonwealth. I write to express my support for House Bill 2093. Ensuring safe, healthy, and modern school facilities that can support innovative teaching and personalization is critical to closing the achievement gap. As schools and educators are asked to provide more innovative lessons, to incorporate project-based learning teaching strategies, and to provide more personalized learning in the form of small groups and makerspaces, it is important that school facilities are conducive to such opportunities. Greensville County Public Schools is comprised of four schools. Two of those schools (Greensville County High School and Belfield Elementary School) are in poor shape. Greensville County High School is comprised of four separate buildings. The original building was constructed in 1953. 1n 1989, an addition to the original building was completed as well as a separate gym and vocational building. Belfield Elementary was built in 1960 and no renovations have been made to this building. Greensville Elementary School was a new construction project in 1998 and E. W. Wyatt Middle School was renovated in 2009. Due to the age of these facilities, the price tag to modernize or build new structures is high and continues to rise while local officials lament over funding new school facilities. The need to fund regular maintenance projects to keep these facilities operational is also critical. The school system is funded locally by the City of Emporia and the County of Greensville. Both governing bodies were invited to a joint presentation of the capital improvement needs of the school division in December 2020 in the hopes that a long-term school capital improvement plan is created. In the meantime, our students are being educated in facilities that do not provide the optimal learning environment to support their success. In January 2020, we conducted empathy interviews with our students to provide an opportunity for them to share with us their opinions about their education. One question centered around the learning environment. A high school student responded, “I feel bad when I go to other schools for sporting events and see how nice their high school is compared to ours.” Similar comments were made by students regarding the lack of a modern school. House Bill 2093 would provide needed assistance to school divisions, such as Greensville, in receiving the support and funding for new school facilities and the maintenance of current facilities. This Bill will also assist in fostering a sense of pride in the learning environment for students and staff. Thank you for your consideration. Kim F. Evans, Ed.D. Division Superintendent

HB2094 - Public schools; Standards of Learning assessments.
Last Name: Shane Riddle Organization: Virginia Education Association Locality: Richmond

Under the requirements of the ESEA both prior to and following the enactment of the ESSA, each state must implement a set of high-quality academic assessments in reading, mathematics, and science. Reading and mathematics assessments must be administered annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. Science assessments must be administered at least once within three grade spans (grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12). Assessments in other grades and subject areas may be administered at the discretion of the state. Together, we must intercede to prevent further widening of opportunity gaps at a time when so many of our students are already swimming against a current that unfairly denies them the high-quality, individualized education they deserve. HB2094, is a timely bill to pivot away from statewide high-stakes summative assessments; HB2094 simply reduces the total number and type of required Standards of Learning assessments to only the minimum requirements established by the federal ESEA Act of 1965, as amended. We believe the outcomes of passing HB 2094 will provide an opportunity for the state and local school division to pursue and focus more on innovative assessment and accountability systems that include both academic and nonacademic indicators and focus on well-rounded, competency-based assessments that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of subject area content and critical thinking skills. These types of assessments are already being utilized in many school divisions in addition to end of year high-stakes standardized test. We believe that this shift would provide more robust and informative data for education leaders to use when responding to the growing opportunity gaps, especially those gaps that may exist due to the impacts of the pandemic. We ask the subcommittee to report out HB2094, favorably.

Last Name: McDonough Locality: Centreville

Please give my children the option of in-person instruction , while allowing others choice to remain virtual. Please support early reading intervention for certain students. My 13-year old son has struggled since kindergarten to learn to read and write. In second grade, I requested the school screen him for additional support. At the time he was denied because he was deemed to be successful enough. With this year's closure of schools I saw his continuing struggles first-hand. With independent screening, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Early intervention would have saved him *years* of struggle. Please do not reduce the Standards of Learning assessments. We need to have specific, measureable metrics that indicate the impact to learning of the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HB2117 - Children's Services Act; funds expended special education programs, allocation of state pool funds.
Last Name: Carter Melin Organization: My child with Autism who has been served by the Comprehensive Services Act (CSA) and the Children's Services Act (CSA) Locality: Norfolk, Virginia

I am providing vehement objection to any and all funding of House Bill 2117 for the Children's Services Act (CSA). I have four and a half years of personal experience including dispute with this law involving my 17 year old child, who has Autism. This law puts funding, decisions, and authority in the hands of the Community Policy Management Teams, the Family Assessment Planning Teams, and the City Councils and County Boards of Supervisors. This is a clear and flagrant misrepresentation of Special Education, as the educators do not administer the law. The only Special Education Law in the United States recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States is the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). All legal record for the child is contained by IDEA. All Due Process hearings are contained within IDEA. By creating the CSA, Virginia has artificially defined a group of IDEA children, and has discriminated against them by informing parents that somehow this different and unequal law is official and necessary. Nothing could be farther from the truth. IDEA serves the most severely disabled children in Virginia, the least severely disabled, and an infinite range in between. The CSA, including HB 2117 is being misrepresented to parents because it is only beneficial to the schools and corporations in the Private Special Education industry and not ultimately to the child. This results in extraordinary burden of cost on taxpayers, as there is the unnecessary CSA administration. In Norfolk, the contracted CSA private schools are more than $50,000 per year, while there are other private special education schools in the state and region which have much lower tuition. But the highest tyranny is not the cost. The worst of it is that the highest executive authority for the IDEA in the commonwealth of Virginia for Special Education, VDOE Assistant Superintendent Dr. Samantha Hollins, is being subverted by the Virginia House, Senate, Governor, Attorney General, and Taxpayers, because the entire State Government believes other agencies should have her funds and authority through the CSA. As I stated I have been in a dispute with the CSA, and this is because my child was contracted and placed by a CSA committee to a private special education school licensed by the VDOE. This school utilizes restraint and seclusion, has a seclusion room, no outdoor playground, and is designated as being able to take sex offenders, severe maladaptive behavior children, psychotic children, juvenile offenders and many other scary designations. Would you want that to happen to your children??? Financially, it is extraordinarily easy for Virginia to fix this problem. Step one is shut down the CSA, step two is put the education funding into the State Education Agency (SEA) and Local Education Agency (LEA) under the IDEA. Then, my local School board, Special Education department and IEP team would have the money and the authority to fund private or public school for special education with the IEP team. HB2117 denies Equal access to IDEA, partially defunds all IDEA agencies by competing for scarce state funds and provides the FAPT, which is not admissible in IDEA due process decisions. There is no legal reason for the CSA to exist, so you shouldn't fund it. It hurts children by segregating them out of district, where the typical peers and opportunities are no longer available. You simply don't need two laws to serve one child.

Last Name: Milling Organization: The Arc of Virginia, disAbility Law Center, NAMI Virginia and CA Human Services (with permission) Locality: Richmond

On behalf of The Arc of Virginia, disAbility Law Center, NAMI Virginia and CA Human Services: Summary Statement: We must oppose both HB 2117 & SB 1313 in their current form, and have proposed a viable amendment to patrons to address the strong concerns over continued inequity. Virginia already demonstrates it’s belief that CSA State funds should pay for additional services needed for students with more complex needs. Unfortunately, the bills as written continue to reinforce the inequitable requirement that in order for a student with complex needs to have their additional services funded, they must be willing to be segregated. Facts Regarding OPPOSITION We are not proposing the implementation of JLARC Recommendation #4, this session. We strongly believe, as written, HB 2117 & SB 1313 may result in an unsuccessful implementation of JLARC Recommendation #3. We are not proposing anything that cuts off funding to private day schools. We no longer oppose the 12-month cap for a transition period, a time in which funding in both public and private day schools may be necessary, we understand the need for that cap. We are opposed only based on the lack of CSA funding for ongoing post-transition services necessary for a student’s success in the public school system. Facts Regarding Post Transition Services Proposal As proposed, ongoing POST Transition Services would be limited ONLY to that Student AND ONLY for those services identified during the Transition Period as necessary for that child’s success in public school ---- eliminating any concerns about CSA funds going into the general budget of any public school division. Ongoing services after transition do NOT add to Virginia’s costs over what would have been spent had the child not transitioned out of private day school back to their public school. If a student’s needs could be met by the existing funding in public schools, that student would/should not have been placed in a private day school in the first place -- therefore demonstrating the need for ongoing funding for services after transition. Why this position on the legislation is necessary: It is collectively our strong opinion that, without ensuring ongoing availability of funding for this specific student population after transition, Virginia is putting students, families, and our local school divisions at a disadvantage -- and very likely setting them up for failure. Additionally, the unsuccessful implementation of JLARC Recommendation #3 puts at risk any future implementation of other recommendations -- and implementing those additional recommendations should be something towards which all stakeholders are actively working. Thank you, with permission of those organizations listed, Tonya Milling Executive Director of The Arc of Virginia

Last Name: Hopkins Locality: Roanoke

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children, and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward. I am curious if it actually affects any of the legislators deciding this personally like it does my family? Or my friends’ families? Do you have to decide to put every ounce of self-respect you have as a human being in the pit of your gut to beg, literally beg the public school system to help your child communicate? Y’all can get tied up in schematics of who has what in whose bill. Why this one?! It actually benefits the students not the public school, CSA, not the ARC. Which bill actually has parent support? Genuine parent support? This one! We already have a stacked dispute resolution system that the school districts have a 97% win ratio. It is, almost, what is the point to even ask y’all to do anything anymore if you don’t listen to the people you are supposed to represent? Y’all are more worried about keeping your funders happy than the people that voted to put you in the office you have. Anyone with a bad comment about this bill isn’t a parent. They are with the schools, or special interest groups to get the money. That is telling, isn't it!? Remember your decision today actually impacts real families especially mine. I urge you, also, to vote for Senator Mason’s Children Services Act, S.B. 1313, and keep funding at the state level for private day schools that serve the special needs community. Virginia’s most vulnerable children and families must be protected. questions: emhopi@msn.com

Last Name: Asip Organization: The Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Thank you Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, I am the Policy and Legislative Chair of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE). Our more than 400 members work directly with local CSA offices in addressing special education placements in private school settings as well as serving our 164,000 students with disabilities in our public schools through participation in IEP meetings. We appreciate Del. VanValkenburg's addressing JLARC recommendations included in HB2117. VCASE has long advocated the flexibility of CSA funds that could be used not only to assist students in transitioning back to public from private placements but also and more critically needed to intervene with CSA-funded services BEFORE consideration of private placement. We believe that elements in Sen. Sutterlein's bill including our recommendation for enhanced services to provide students services to keep them in the least restrictive environment of the public schools PRIOR to expensive private school placements. We do not require a year of study by a work group to replicate CSA funding flexibility that was permissible and effective back in 2010. We appreciate the work Del. VanValkenburg and Sen. Mason have done in response to our suggestions. Thank you! Mike Asip

Last Name: Niznik Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Bedford county

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son Kingsley needs BRAAC because he can not do virtual learning with his disability and attention span. He can not be in public school as well. He can only be helped one on one with his serves BRAAC is highly trained to give him.

Last Name: Brandon Organization: BRACC Locality: Nathalie

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son twin boys needs BRAAC because they are stage 3 autistic. The public schools could not help them. Since being at BRAAC my boys can get the therapies they need. Since being at this school I have seen drastic improvements. This school has been a life saver for my boys.

Last Name: Morris Locality: Virginia Beach, VA

My son Ethan is not a neurotypical child. He has a severe form of autism. He is 11 years old. He cannot speak, and while very intelligent, he has trouble interacting in the world in the way a “typical” child is able. He doesn’t live in a world that makes sense to him in the same way it does to you or I. His world, while it may be the same that you and I share, is quite different. Entropy and chaos replace for him that which control and order reside in ours. Alienation and loneliness stalk him, even in a room of those who love him, since he cannot express his thoughts or feelings to them, not they to him, in any effectual way. Respite is found in behaviors that other children label as “odd” or “weird”. Flapping of his hands, or bouncing on a yoga ball with more dexterity than most gymnasts, replace “normal” childhood activities like playing video games with friends or having a sleepover. My son in the care of the wonderful professionals at Plan Bee Academy and has made more progress than we thought he could. His use of a device to communicate has improved greatly, his behaviors have decreased, his aptitude more fully realized. Its not been without hard work on his part, but with far greater volumes of effort from the staff. They teach the hardest of our little ones. Those that others have long since abandoned and given up on as “not worth it”, or “incapable”. Each tiny progress is another of Ethan’s victory songs, lifted up by the voices of those who have struggled alongside of him every step of the way. His mother and I sat in tiny chairs, in a crowded auditorium last winter, and watched him ring a tiny little jingle bell, on a very chaotic, gorgeously full stage of his classmates, just staring out into the audience with this brilliant luminescence of joy beaming from him. Most parents would have been laughing at the discombobulation of the kids, or winced at the cacophony of a dozen little angelic voices with no semblance of harmony, but not us. We cried. Not pretty little tears, or delicately hidden sniffled weepings. No, full on crying, lost in the warmth of his smile, and the totally off-rhythm shaking of a bell to music we couldn’t even hear. Because for one instant, he wasn’t an autistic kid, he was just a kid. And while he may still never have a sleepover or a best friend to share his secrets with, in that moment he was with his classmates, the closest thing he has ever had to friends, on that stage. A kid, who for the first time in his life got to be in a Christmas “play”. That moment, for him, and for us, represents so plainly what places like Plan Bee are all about. They aren’t about helping “Autistic” kids, or making “Special Needs” childrens’ futures brighter. They aren’t, because they don’t see them that way. Places like that, and people like them work every day to make our childrens’ lives better and futures brighter because………..they are KIDS, and they deserve the chance for a better life, no matter its degree.

Last Name: Beheler Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Botetourt County

"I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son needs BRAAC because he was removed from by the public school system due to behaviors and they couldn’t educate him. Since attending BRAAC, my son has been able to learn at a his own pace and not get overwhelmed in large classroom. He has trained staff to help him navigate obstacles and teach him in his own unique learning style. He has made great strides both academically and behaviorally. During the summer, he was able to return to school because BRAAC knew the challenges these children face with routine changes. It negatively affects every aspect of his life not having a structured daily routine. Public schools still aren’t able to offer 5 days a week locally. Without this private day school, I am certain that my son would be in a residential facility. BRAAC provides so much more than an education. Public schools aren’t capable of providing my son his unique educational and social needs. Grateful for private day schools, Amanda Beheler

Last Name: Elechi Organization: BLUE RIDGE AUTISM AND ACHIEVEMENT CENTER ( BRAAC) Locality: ROANOKE COUNTY

My name is Uchenna Elechi, I am a Physical Therapist and the mother of a 20 year old man on the Autism Spectrum. We live in Roanoke County. I am writing to SUPPORT HB2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, and protections for all Children and transitions.. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is therefore a great step forward. In 2003 at the age of 3 my son Chukie was diagnosed with Autism. We got the diagnosis and quickly realized that there was no help, no plan and no quick fix for what ails our son. We were advised to get him into the Roanoke county preschool which we did. To their credit, his first classroom teacher and Aide loved him , but didn’t know how to help him; more so with 11 other kids in the classroom. And so our son spent much of his school day restrained in a “ high chair”. After many agonizing months of searching for help for our son who at this age was completely non verbal, did not make eye contact, appeared to be unaware of self, lacked the ability to interact with us or his peers, and was prone to fits of outbursts and tantrums we heard about BRAAC! AND WHAT A LIFE SAVER THAT HAS BEEN. In the 16 years since then, Chukie has benefited tremendously from the intense one on one ABA therapies he has received and continues to receive. He has been taught things as simple as making a thumbs up 👍🏾 sign , to writing his name, appropriate social behaviors ,interactions with others and self regulation albeit with prompts as needed; He continues to work on communication with the help of a speech augmentation device, as well as on building skills that hopefully will help him to transition out of school soon, allow him secure supported employment and exist as a productive member of his community. I therefore implore you to please support this HOUSE BILL 2117 . Thank you for taking the time to read this, Uchenna Elechi.

Last Name: Ingerson Locality: Roanoke County

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son/daughter needs BRAAC because in 2010, my family was in crisis. At the time, our three-year old with autism (and a severe intellectual ability), Kaedan, was in a public school preschool program. His behaviors grew worse and out of control. Kaedan urinated and defecated on our floors. He stripped both at home and in public (Yes, he has been naked in Kroger). He screamed so loud we wore ear plugs. He woke at night, jumped on the floors loudly, and kicked holes in the walls. He bit family members frequently. Frankly, my wife and I were tired, frustrated, isolated, desperate, and losing it mentally. The public school had no answers. Our saving grace was BRAAC. They trained us in applied behavior analysis. They worked with our son intensely. They committed to programming a public school simply can never match (and I say that as a public school secondary teacher). He quickly became potty-trained. He learned language to express his needs. His behaviors improved. I urge you to vote for Senator Mason’s Children Services Act, S.B. 1313, and keep funding at the state level for private day schools that serve the special needs community. Virginia’s most vulnerable children and families must be protected. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to speak with you (540-915-0604). Sincerely, Mark L. Ingerson 4609 Great Glen Drive Salem, Va 24153

Last Name: Crush Organization: Blue Ridge Autism Achievement Center Locality: Vinton

I support HB2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships. Protection for ALL children and transitions. My son needs BRAAC because he is on the autism spectrum and requires 1:1 throughout his day. He has behaviors daily that BRAAC staff know how to handle and keep him safe. He is in a safe nurturing environment with well trained and qualified staff who know how to met his individual needs and provide family support as well. Thank you The Crush Family

Last Name: Firebaugh Organization: BRAAC and Special Ed Day Schools Locality: Roanoke

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My brother NEEDS BRAAC and I know all families feel this way about their special education day schools. At BRAAC they understand my brothers needs. They understand his communication device and how to show him how to use it to reduce his frustrations. BRAAC understand when a 12 year old is still working on toilet training. BRAAC understands how to reduce self injurious behavior. BRAAC understands how important the team approach is to my brothers success with his activities of daily living. Please vote for this bill so my brother can remain in an educational environment that meets his unique, individualized, educational and behavioral needs. In order for him to be successful he needs to continue to participate in an intensive autism program with highly trained staff and receive 1:1 intensive ABA in a year round school... as do all of the children that are thriving in this type of school. Please support HB2117

Last Name: Miller Organization: BRAAC and Special Ed Day Schools Locality: Roanoke

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! If you do not have a child with the needs of an intensive educational program like the BRAAC offers, then I would ask you to take my word for it and support this bill. This is a REAL NEED in our community! My son is nonverbal and uses a communication device to speak. His ability to communicate needs to be strengthened in order for him to have meaningful dialog with his peers and adults in school, at home and in the community. My son also has self injurious behaviors that need intervention and also he needs help working on his activities of daily living. The BRAAC offers him the services he needs so he can continue to receive the intensive behavior plan simultaneously, in order to meet his needs and work towards accomplishing these goals. My sons school is filled with children just like him that need the support of BRAAC and these kids and our families need YOUR support of passing this bill.

Last Name: Keith Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Buena vista

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My daughter needs BRAAC because not only does she love Braac Roanoke and the technicians she is with. She has made progress that many doctors believed was not possible. She has really opened up and is starting to speak because of her technicians at school take the time to really get to know her and understand her. Without a school like Braac I fear she will be back in public school where she set for an entire school year not making progress where they did not have high hopes or expectations for her. So she was essentially taught that she could escape school because they never had her comply with instructions. Because this behavior was reinforced in public school...it continued into the hope. It became dangerous to take my daughter anywhere and she could not interact with her baby brother because she would not comply with instructions. Now that she is at Braac she is flourishing...she is able to be in public. Her behavior is more compliant. She is learning to play with others. Her future looks brighter with Braac in our forefront. PLEASE help us to make sure her future is still bright.

Last Name: Whitesell Locality: Campbell

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! Our daughter needs BRAAC because it is the only option that provides a FAPE given her unique needs. Our daughter failed to make meaningful progress, and in fact REGRESSED, in the public school setting in both academic and life skills over a three year period. Although our daughter could read and speak, she lacked the ability to use her language skills functionally, and to demonstrate understanding of appropriate behaviors. The public school discontinued autism consultation and therapies even as her abilities declined. Upon the recommendation of multiple developmental specialists, we explored more intensive educational settings. BRAAC was able to meet our daughter's unique needs and to increase her functional communication skills greatly, despite the sudden onset of intractable epilepsy just prior to enrollment. BRAAC met our daughter where she was and developed a truly INDIVIDUALIZED educational plan for her, instead of trying to make her fit into a one size fits all program that did not provide the one on one instruction that she required. While we believe that the public school is making progress to meet the needs of more students than in decades past, it is not capable of meeting the highly specialized needs of some students with autism, and some other educational needs. BRAAC provides one on one instruction with highly trained staff that develop and implement a program for our daughter, tracks her progress, and regularly modifies and fine tunes the program based on progress and interpretation of data. Furthermore, parents are provided with multiple avenues to be involved in a meaningful manner, which will provide the greatest chance of transfer of learned skills and behaviors. For our daughter, it included gathering relevant medical updates during frequent meetings, and tracking behavior, skill progress, and medical events when medications were changed. This was especially helpful when seizures climbed to over 100 per day at one point. Safety measures were put in place and we were able to have clear data when medications had an adverse or positive effect on learning. Finally, BRAAC provided in-home and in-community training for our daughter with us to address real life challenges. In the community, I was frequently unable to take our daughter into many settings with a reasonable degree of safety. She would scream, scratch, hit, and throw herself down, sometimes near sharp shelves or when crossing parking lots. I struggled with her unbuckling and moving around in the car to hit younger siblings. There were multiple occasions where I had to pull off the side of a busy highway to get her under control. BRAAC developed plans with us for situations like those, and also routines for home such as a morning routine that would help address her inappropriate behaviors that were causing her to be late for school. BRAAC sent staff to observe the mornings at home, developed and implemented a plan. Then staff trained and observed us implementing the plan, and made adjustments until we had a successfully working plan that greatly decreased the frequency and duration of problem behaviors, and insured that Caroline got to school on time. In conclusion, schools like BRAAC provide a critical service to meet the needs of certain students.

Last Name: Hoyle Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Roanoke

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions.  This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son needs Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) in Roanoke. Matthew attended public schools for four academic years, from age 3 to age 7. He was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum at age 6. He was identified as being “twice exceptional” during testing but his education suffered because of the public school’s inability to provide the supports he needed.  During his time in public school he was repeatedly physically restrained, put in a “calm room”, (closet with mats on the wall and floor), removed from general education classes and left to watch YouTube videos by himself, excluded from class events, false ABA practices were used by Instructional Aides with no training which escalated behaviors and caused mental anguish. Despite numerous IEP meetings, hiring an Educational Advocate, providing proof the data was incorrect and his IEP was not being followed nothing was done. He showed PTSD symptoms related to school. By the end of 2018-19 school year no place would accept him for summer childcare and I had to take FMLA unpaid leave. His escalations had us fearing inpatient treatment might be the only option. Out of desperation we withdrew him from public school and enrolled him privately at BRAAC in the fall of 2019. Within only a few months the aggression drastically reduced, he wanted to attend school, and was excelling academically. BRAAC provides parent classes where we learned what ABA should look like and how it works when used by trained certified staff.  Now in our second year at BRAAC he is testing at least one grade level above his grade in all subjects, is learning to advocate for himself and how to use coping strategies. Our play therapist and child psychologist have praised BRAAC’s ability to combine ABA with a trauma informed approach due to his childhood trauma prior to our adoption of him. We have been able to reduce the amount of medications being taken and Matthew is now, at just shy of age 9, receiving an education that meets his needs, has a community of friends and supports, and we are confident in his successful transition, when the time is right in the future, to a school system to earn his diploma.  Our school and other special education day schools are needed to educate these students with unique educational and behavioral needs. Please feel free to contact me with questions at 540-529-5246.

Last Name: Mason Locality: Roanoke City

I support HB 2117, which supports collaboration, partnerships, and protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations, and this is a great step forward! My son attends the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) in Roanoke County. He has multiple diagnoses and special education needs, and the public school district, through the IEP process, has determined they cannot provide him with the services he needs, and thus supports his placement at BRAAC (since the 2017-18 academic year and every year since). The highly trained educators at BRAAC have helped him advance his academic skills, but they are able to do so at HIS level and adjust as he masters skills, rather than at grade level. They are also helping him develop his social and vocational skills. He has overcome an inability to sleep because he loves to go to school now instead of dreading it like he did when he attended public school. At BRAAC, he is included in all activities, rather than excluded due to behaviors that teachers can't manage in crowded classrooms, as happened daily in the public schools. He is learning to manage his behaviors as well as his relationships with peers and adults. I could go on and on. Really, I can't overstate it. My son's attendance at BRAAC has been life-changing in so many positive ways that will impact what he can achieve--and there are similar stories from other parents, some of whom may get a chance to speak with you today. Please support HB 2117. My son needs BRAAC because, by the public school district's own determination, the public schools cannot provide what he needs. BRAAC can and does! In fact, the highly trained staff at BRAAC are providing my son with intensive, evidenced-based instruction and services that are making a tremendous impact on his abilities, knowledge and skills, and in turn, they have boosted his overall well being, both now and into his future.

Last Name: RIDDLE Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Roanoke

Mu husband and I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and is a great step forward! My son needs the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) because he is considered to be on the profound end of the autism spectrum. He is 15 years old and is not able to speak any words. He communicates solely though sign language, gestures, and his communication device. He requires intensive 1 on 1 assistance and teaching due to his high level needs and behavioral issues. BRAAC has been a lifesaver for our son and for our family!

Last Name: Atkinson Organization: BRAAC Locality: Roanoke

I support HB 2117 which supports collaboration, partnerships, protections for ALL children and transitions. This bill supports the JLARC recommendations and this is a great step forward! My son, Noah, attends BRAAC and has had academic and social success all because of the BRAAC staff giving him the guidance he needed. Noah was refusing to even get out of the car when he was attending public school. On the days he did attend school he was either being suspended or spending time in a padded room because staff did not know what to do with him. It was pure torture and heartbreak UNTIL he was able to attend BRAAC. He needs private day and he deserves to be able to access the kind of education he NEEDS. I hate to even think of where he would be and where our family would be had he not been able to attend BRAAC. They do GREAT things and they deserve every penny they can get and support from everyone in the education field.

Last Name: Medovich Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: MONETA

My son was diagnosed with autism just prior to his 3rd birthday. He was completely non-verbal. We had to strongly advocate for placement in a specialized school, and it was the most appropriate decision we could make for him. Specialized placement provided a learning environment that encouraged intensive skill acquisition. Every child has unique learning challenges that can not always be met in a student's home district. If we had not advocated for this, we would have lost a precious window of opportunity for skill acquisition in his early intervention. Special needs students, particularly students with autism, need that intensive intervention. By doing this early and intensive intervention, as well as specialized learning environment, he excelled in expressive language, social skills, as well as job readiness and other academic areas. Today, he is 29 years old, and lives in a regular apartment in downtown Roanoke. He has been on his own for 6 years. Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center and other specialized day schools provide unique environments for learning, and have programs and staff not typically available in a public schools. It is important for this bill to be considered for the future of special needs students. Thank you!

Last Name: Henderson Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Roanoke county

I am writing on behalf of House Bill 2117. I am not the parent or caretaker of a child/ adult with disabilities or Autism but I am involved in the daily operation of a private school serving this population. I can tell you without hesitation that our school like many private schools take that responsibility very seriously. The students who attend BRAAC are the priority period. This includes the facility designed to meet their needs, qualified staff who receive continuous training, parent training on -going, equipment updates, supplies for educational and academics needs, care and maintenance of our facility community awareness and more. The Administration of our organization develops fund raisers continuously in order to support the school, the students and scholarships for our program. The personal attention we give to the students and their families is often key to our success and doing that to the degree we do is difficult for public systems with tight budgets and large enrollments. Our private setting which is entirely set up for the students we serve gives the students individual attention , protection and trained therapists from the time they arrive until the time they leave each day. We also provide therapists who go to their homes to assist the student and their family which is also key. This is what we do and because this is our only mission as a Private School, we are able to put all our efforts and energies into each individual challenge, each individual student on a daily basis. Funding Private Schools such as BRAAC not only meets the needs of the population we serve but it supports the community and the public schools in our community and surrounding counties. We have proven to be a good neighbor. Please listen to the parents of children who feel they have been lost in the public system. Please know we serve a very special purpose in our community and yes those funds are very much needed to continue what has been proven to be a successful Private School. Thank you for your consideration of House Bill 2117. With Respect, Lucy Henderson do

Last Name: Schrepf Organization: BRAAC Locality: Rockbridge

Hello, Please Pass and support Delegate VanValkenburg's House Bill 2117! This bill enables private schools such as BRAAC to receive the funding they need to provide individual instruction to their students. My family is forever changed because of the support and kindness they have showed my family. Students who receive BRAAC’s services need a safe place to learn and be themselves. My son’s life will be forever changed because of the individualized education BRAAC has given him. Nicholas was diagnosed with Autism at age two and was unable to speak or communicate his needs. He often became frustrated and would hurt himself and potentially others if his behavior got out of control. Because of the individualized instruction that BRAAC provides, Nicholas is now able to communicate and be a valued member of his community. I want other families to experience this remarkable experience by allowing their children the opportunity to receive BRAAC support. Please support Bill 2117 so that BRAAC can continue to help children in our community. Best Regards, Brittany Schrepf

Last Name: Smith Organization: Virginia Association of School Superintendents Locality: Palmyra

While the Virginia Association of School Superintendents supports parts of this bill, we feel that it should include prevention services as well as transition services. We also feel that rthe tranostion services should last longer than 12 months. Thank you, Dr. Tom Smith VASS

Last Name: Brown Organization: BRAAC Locality: Lynchburg

Before working at BRAAC I worked as a Registered Behavior Technician for a local ABA therapy company. We provided in home and clinic therapy. My clients who had autism and intellectual disabilities all went to public school and we’re not receiving the care they needed. I had a client who was non verbal and we were tracking 9 different problem behaviors within 15 minutes, including intense self injurious behaviors. She was 10 years old and put in a 5th grade special needs classroom, she was also integrated with the regular class and asked to read books and do multiplication. She was also bullied by the other students who would throw food and milk on her. Public schools are not fit to handle children like this. BRAAC focuses on stopping those problem behaviors as well as educating students using ABA methods. I had to go through intense training before starting my job at BRAAC, I am so thankful that I can use those skills I was taught to help the kids at BRAAC. It’s so amazing being there seeing these children’s lives changed for the better and I truly wish all schools would operate like BRAAC because so many lives would be changed. Cutting funding for BRAAC would devastate families and children.

Last Name: Leonard Organization: Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center Locality: Blue Ridge

Please support HB 2117, which works towards partnerships and collaboration with educators for high needs children, including public schools and the hard working non-profit special education day schools, who give their all to help the most vulnerable. Although we appreciate the desire to save the state money, we parents of children with severe disabilities understand that the highly specialized educational interventions during their school years IS the answer to saving the state money. The costs of specialized care for ADULTS are astronomical when their aging parents can no longer care for them! This bill DOES encompass the JLARC recommendations for the CSA study. I am the founder of Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Centers, and the mother of a special needs son, for which this school was built. This is a quote from one of the families we serve: "In 2010, my family was in crisis. At the time, our three-year old with autism (and a severe intellectual ability), Kaedan, was in a public school preschool program. His behaviors grew worse and out of control. Kaedan urinated and defecated on our floors. He stripped both at home and in public (Yes, he has been naked in Kroger). He screamed so loud we wore ear plugs. He woke at night, jumped on the floors loudly, and kicked holes in the walls. He bit family members frequently. Frankly, my wife and I were tired, frustrated, isolated, desperate, and losing it mentally. The public school had no answers. Our saving grace was BRAAC." Hundreds of similar stories can be repeated. The cost of special education day schools ARE expensive because our staff is charged with eliminating the behaviors Kaeden exhibited, then teaching them to shower independently, toilet themselves, read, write, tell time, manage money, prepare food, communicate their wants and needs, wash their clothes....the list goes on and on. Then we teach them a specific skill so that one day they can be employed. And after that we teach them to load/unload a dishwasher, cook easy meals, manipulate water so they do not get scalded when showering, make purchases at the grocery store, not walk out in the street in front of cars, how to safely take medication....again, the list goes on. I guess the gist of what I am saying is that we teach EVERYTHING! And the state will not save money in the long run! My son will live in his community thanks to schools like BRAAC. BRAAC has 65 children on our waitlist. Public schools will not be able to do what we do. Will public school employees stand beside a shower while they teach, step-by step, every day, a seventeen year old boy how to wash his body? Or will they continue to scoop up clothing soiled with feces, balled up and thrown in a plastic Food Lion bag to be sent home for the parent to take care of and not clean the soiled legs of the student then complain about how bad he "stinks"? (true story). Will they continue to call our children "ankle-biters," with whom they are thankful to get rid of? God Bless the ARC, but they do NOT represent the children with the most severe needs, such as the ones our schools take care of, and the examples I just gave. We have a long way to go to work TOGETHER for the needs of very special children who require the highest level of training for many years to become like my son, for whom the school was started: He is now employed by Mission Barbecue and working towards living semi-independently in his own place. He has community! Support HB 2117!

Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

I am the Policy and Legislative Chair of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE). Our more than 400 members work directly with local CSA offices in addressing special education placements in private school settings as well as serving our students in our public schools through participation in IEP meetings. VCASE generally supports the efforts that have come before the General Assembly to provide flexibility with the use of CSA funds to support public services for students who may otherwise need private school placements. We appreciate Del. Van Valkenburg addressing JLARC recommendations included in HB2117. I do have some suggestions that I have already provided to Del. Van Valkenburg and Sen. Mason (SB1313) with additional info below: 1. HB2117 addresses only the intervening (transition) services AFTER a private placement. We also support CSA funding and services that intervene in public school settings BEFORE private school placement to avert a costly private school placement. This bill should be merged with other bills before the GA that advocate for preventative public services IN ADDITION TO intervening services to support transition from private back to public schools. 2. I suggest changing the term "transition" and "transitional" to "intervening" or some other nomenclature. Transition services are a discrete set of regulated IEP processes and services to assist students with postsecondary planning. This would avoid any confusion by practitioners. 3. I agree that a one year term of CSA funded intervening services is appropriate, but that an IEP team could continue those services even without CSA funding. This part of the bill should focus on the funding stream, not appear to require specific IEP driven services. 4. I suggest a less prescriptive set of services in the bill. The IEP team (in most cases involving public and private school participants) determines the intensive services a student may need. Any list could be seen as prescriptive. 5. I suggest the last sentence (lines 53-55) would more appropriately read: "In addition, pool funds may be utilized for local agencies to contract with a private school education program provider in the public school." Current wording that asserts that the "best transition" includes contracting with private providers is overly prescriptive and may not be accurate in all circumstances. 6. Regarding lines 16 and 17, the JLARC recommended that the Commonwealth "prohibit the use of state funds for any private day school tuition payments to schools that are not licensed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) .." The language in lines 16 and 17 should be explicit with this prohibition. 6. There is a fiscal impact in establishing a Work Group addressing the several JLARC recommendations. I would be glad to discuss any questions you may have. I can be reached at 757-927-0588. Dr. Mike Asip

HB2211 - Individualized education programs; identification of necessary additional services and referrals.
Last Name: Asip Organization: VCASE Locality: Powhatan

Thank you Madam Chair and Members of the Committee We appreciate Del. Plum's effort to facilitate great use of CSA "wrap-around" funding that had been under-utilized in localities around the Commonwealth. We believe there are alternative mechanisms other than a broad IEP team mandate that could acheive Del. Plum's very worthy goal. We offer alternative language for HB2211 "Schools divisions and local CSA representatives shall develop policies and practices that streamline and facilitate greater access by youth in need of "wrap-around" services outside of the school day funded through Child Services Act. The Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction (or VDOE) and the Virginia Children's Services Act Executive Director (or the Office of Children's Services) shall collaborate on revising guidance documents for school division and local CSA administrators to achieve this result." Factors: *There are non-IEP students who can qualify and access CSA services, so "division" not "IEP team". * FAPT teams differ on qualifications and access to these services that affect Division staff ability to obtain CSA funded services. * Please do not mandate another IEP team requirement that will address non-FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) matters. * If an IEP mandate, this opens the door to school division responsibilities for a variety of after school services, some could be not at all loosely associated with a students need for FAPE. * If an IEP mandate, and local FAPT refuses to fund the referred activity, then is the service a required IEP service that the school division may be required to pay for from division funds. Another alternative mechanism could be language that requires an IEP team CONSIDER (not require REFER) such wrap-around services. These services should be directly related to the students disability. Thank you, Mike Asip

Last Name: Milling Organization: The Arc of Virginia Locality: Richmond

I recognize this is late, so just submitting for the record. HB 2238 - Strongly Support HB 2277 - Strongly Support HB 2299 - Strongly Support HB 2211 - Support HB 2117 - As written Strongly Oppose Thank you, Tonya Milling, Executive Director

Last Name: Tolley Locality: Henrico

I'm not sure of the intent or extent of this bill, but if it is to return CSA services and funding to how it worked for our family in the 90's when this program was just initiated, I'm in full support. Services in our home through CSA enabled us to keep our son at home. It was a different story when our granddaughter needed assistance through CSA. That particular county required that she first had hospital stays, crisis stabilization unit stays, and/or psychiatric day treatment before they would even consider seeing my son's family for an official meeting to discuss her needs. She ended up requiring 17 months total psychiatric residential services. Her sister has PTSD. I believe that with appropriate supports, information and services, these outcomes could have been prevented. (My son sought private services - specifically in-home services - but these were not available. Many services that would have helped required specific diagnoses, specific funding (Medicaid) or involvement with the CSA).

HB2238 - Licensed private schools for students with disabilities; accreditation.
Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Madam Chair and members of the Committee, The Virginia Council of Administartors of Special education (VCASE) supports HB2238 and thanks Del. Kory for sponsorship of this bill! Thank you! Mike Asip

Last Name: Milling Organization: The Arc of Virginia Locality: Richmond

I recognize this is late, so just submitting for the record. HB 2238 - Strongly Support HB 2277 - Strongly Support HB 2299 - Strongly Support HB 2211 - Support HB 2117 - As written Strongly Oppose Thank you, Tonya Milling, Executive Director

HB2277 - Children with disabilities, certain; one-year high school extensions permitted.
Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

VCASE supports the goals of HB2277. We are concerned with the larger costs to localities in this effort. The estimated $5 million ADM with not fund the potential for additional teachers that school divisions may require for theses intensive services as the final school year to transition to work, training or postseconday opportunities. We applad Del. Bell for his effort to recognize this critical last year of services for students with disabilities! Mike Asip

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

I'm in support of this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Milling Organization: The Arc of Virginia Locality: Richmond

I recognize this is late, so just submitting for the record. HB 2238 - Strongly Support HB 2277 - Strongly Support HB 2299 - Strongly Support HB 2211 - Support HB 2117 - As written Strongly Oppose Thank you, Tonya Milling, Executive Director

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chespeake

Support kids getting some extra time to graduate on time.

HB2299 - Special education; training for school divisions on developing IEPs for children w/ disabilities.
Last Name: Asip Organization: Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, I am the Policy and Legislative Chair of the Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE). Our more than 400 members supervise the provision of services for the more than 164,000 Virginia students with disabilities in our public schools. VCASE supports Del. Carr's Bill that will address prorofessional development in the proper development of IEPs the plans that provide our students with needed special education services. A driving factor in the inconsistent quality of IEPs is the critical shaortage of special education teachers and the lack of training by general education and administartive members of IEP teams. We support funding that will assist localities in providing leadership in training, monitoring, and acountability for local divisions. We ask support for house Budget Amendment HB145#31h that initiates direct support for localities in the special education accountability and support. Thank you! Mike Asip

Last Name: Huerta Organization: Virginia Board for People with Disabiliities Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities supports increased training on IEPs and monitoring of IEP sections, particularly around transition. In its 2017 Assessment on education, VBPD found the rate of students with disabilities served in segregated settings varies by school district, with the rate of students enrolled in special education doubling in certain districts. By implementing the increased monitoring recommended in the assessment and in JLARC reports, VDOE can better train and support school districts to increase their capacity to serve students with disabilities in general education settings. This is especially important in improving transition planning. The goal of Virginia’s education system is to prepare all students to transition to employment, higher education, or other meaningful participation in their communities. Both VBPD and JLARC found that school districts need more oversight, guidance and training in how to incorporate meaningful employment, post-secondary and other transition-related goals into transition planning and services. By providing adequate supports, school districts help students succeed into adulthood.

Last Name: Milling Organization: The Arc of Virginia Locality: Richmond

I recognize this is late, so just submitting for the record. HB 2238 - Strongly Support HB 2277 - Strongly Support HB 2299 - Strongly Support HB 2211 - Support HB 2117 - As written Strongly Oppose Thank you, Tonya Milling, Executive Director

HB2305 - Governor's Schools; Board of Education to issue guidance on the governance of academic year.
Last Name: Magrab Locality: McLean

Vote NO on HB 2305. Removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is NOT the way to increase access to historically undeserved students, and will destroy the national rankings and resulting opportunities for students.

Last Name: Rohlfing Locality: Falls Church

As a former Thomas Jefferson High School alumnus (class of 2008), I am writing in support of the new bill HB2305 as it relates to Governor School admissions. I signed a letter last year in 2020, along with hundreds of members of my graduating class, in support of making the TJ community a more racially equitable environment, and I believe starting with the unequal admissions process is a wonderful and much needed first step. I would encourage the Committee to advance this bill to the full House as the next step in correcting these long overdue issues. Anne Rohlfing, MD Fellow, Division of Palliative Medicine University of California, San Francisco

Last Name: Wang Locality: Fairfax

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” ― Seneca Diversity is being misused as a religion and political tool because it's deemed as useful. Governor's Schools are not the problem, the politicians are the problem.

Last Name: Berry Locality: Annandale

As a citizen and taxpayer of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am deeply disturbed about the lack of diversity at Governor’s schools. therefore I support Bill HB 2305. As a taxpayer funded institutions, all students in public schools, should have access to an education that can prepare them to gain acceptance to Governor’s Schools. Everything a student needs for acceptance should be provided by their local public school. The Commonwealth, local school boards and administrations need to take action to correct this situation now. More importantly, taxpayer money should not be used to support specialized schools which do not adequately reflect our communities and do not support all of the members of our community. It is necessary that all schools appreciate the diverse culture here in Virginia. That is what all taxpayers can support.

Last Name: Wang Locality: Fairfax

Governor's Schools are not Governor Northam's schools. Department of Education is not Secretary Qarni's private playground. General Assembly is not a party place for personable interest. Education is never an easy task. To reach equity, find the cause of inequity first and take right approach. HB2305 is taking a short cut to defeat the whole purpose of education, it's a de-education bill.

Last Name: Figley Organization: Maggie Walker Locality: St. Louis

I’m writing today, because I care about the future of Governor’s Schools in the state of Virginia and the students they serve. I am an alumni of Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, VA and a member of a small group of MW alumni working to address issues of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in the Maggie Walker community and beyond. I’m writing to express my support of House Bill 2305. This bill would give Governor’s Schools in Virginia guidance and support to better provide opportunities and an equitable, inclusive education to the students in the regions that they serve. Over the course of the last few months, Black Alumni from Maggie Walker have conducted surveys that make it clear that we are failing in how we support Black students at our school. It’s a pervasive pattern that must be addressed. Black students (former and current) share examples of racist treatment from peers and teachers, counseling that pushes them away (or toward) certain courses, and a lack of support for their authentic experiences. As a teacher myself, I’m aware that these issues are not isolated to Governor’s Schools; however, I also know that schools can and must address these issues. If HB 2305 passes, Governor’s Schools throughout the commonwealth would have the support they need at the state level to make changes in all the many areas we know are essential to supporting students of color at school. It’s also clear that Governor’s Schools throughout the state should be making necessary changes to the admissions process. UVA’s National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented conducted a study on Maggie Walker in 2009 - twelve years ago - finding that our school disproportionately excluded students who are Black, Latinx, and socioeconomically disadvantaged. In that study, they provided recommendations about the recruitment and retention processes for Black students, and in the twelve years since that study, there has been no measurable change. Without accountability, guidance, and support, the steps recommended by this panel of experts were never taken, and students continue to suffer as a result. As public schools that receive state funding, Governor’s schools should be accessible to all students, regardless of income level, race, or zip code, and whether they have been recognized by the system as “gifted.” I believe that this legislation will help Virginia Governor’s Schools become more inclusive and equitable. This will improve the experience and education for students who have been historically underserved, as well as for all students who attend these schools. Thank you.

Last Name: Buford Locality: Fairfax County

As a parent of a TJ graduate, a former teacher and education reform professional, I too am distressed over the lack of Black and Hispanic students admitted to TJ. However, I am equally troubled that HB 2305 will slap a Band-Aid solution that will erode TJ’s merit-based admission standards (despite comments to the contrary). If this bill passes, the resulting regulations will either harm students or compromise TJ’s public purpose, or both. TJ is designed to serve the small segment of highly gifted students who have both the skills and desire to tackle rigorous, post AP, college-level math and science courses while still in high school. To flourish at TJ, students must be able to “hit the ground running” so that by senior year, they are prepared for their year-long research project in specific labs, such as neuroscience, energy systems, quantum physics or prototyping. In their spare time, many TJ students participate in competitive academic Olympiad teams in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics or robotics, and have won numerous prestigious awards. However, as you can imagine, students who show up without the requisite skills or an interest in digging deeply into a math and science-focused curriculum, would find TJ overwhelming and lonely. So what should we do? Much of the discussion has placed inordinate blame for the racial disparities on “the test.” However, the test was not an insurmountable obstacle in years gone by. African-American economist, Thomas Sowell, has pointed out that in 1938, the proportion of Blacks attending Stuyvesant High School, a similarly selective high school, was almost as high as the proportion of blacks in the population of New York City. Unfortunately, more recently public systems have lost their way. As with TJ, Sowell describes declines in Black admissions to Stuyvesant, “In 1979, blacks were 12.9% of students at Stuyvesant, falling to 4.8% in 1995.” In 2020, the New York Times reported 1.1% of the incoming freshman class is Black. There is no substitute for building a diverse pipeline of qualified students. If FCPS was serious about this endeavor, it would provide bright Black and Hispanic students with a much firmer foundation in arithmetic during elementary school, and then offer them a double dose of algebra and geometry in middle school. When Stuart (now Justice) HS in Falls Church tried something similar at the high school level, its student SOL scores soared. Tragically, instead of building on the program's success, FCPS bureaucrats ordered Stuart HS to shut down this program, and student SOL scored dropped. FCPS' attempts at outside enrichment programs and test preparation have also been unsuccessful, even as programs around the country have achieved extraordinary results. Has anyone explored why that is the case? Now more than ever, our national security and economic prosperity require a deep bench of inventors, mathematicians and technology business leaders. Again, I ask you to oppose HB 2503, it does not address the underlying reasons for racial disparities at TJ. Yet, it will do our students, TJ and the community a grave disservice.

Last Name: Kuttan Locality: McLean

I strongly urge you to support Bill HB2305, this reform is badly needed and the bare minimum we must do.

Last Name: Monera Locality: Vienna

No to HB2305 Dear Delegate, I am a Virginia resident since 2001 and I am strongly opposed to HB2305 that is blatantly anti Asian . Racism has no place in the public school system. The standard test is the fairest way for students of all backgrounds to demonstrate their skills and potential. The Governor’s schools such as TJHSST need to have these tests to ensure fairness.

Last Name: Stegner Locality: Fairfax County

The VA Board of Education must work to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at our schools, which is good for all students!

Last Name: Creighton Locality: City of Richmond

I submit this statement as an alumna of the Maggie L Walker Governor's School (MLWGS) in Richmond, Virginia, a constituent and a parent. I served on the Task Force that Secretary Qarni formed in August 2020, and have been involved in the efforts specifically at MLWGS to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment for ALL students. The bill before this committee is focused on creating guidelines for the governance of Virginia's Governor's Schools, of which there are 19 across the Commonwealth. While many of the comments have focused on the two most well-known of those; Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (TJHSST) and MLWGS, it is critically important that we take the approach to provide guidance to create equity and access across all of the schools, not just the two that have been at the forefront of the conversations. This bill is not at all prescriptive, but instead requires the Board of Education to issue such guidance. When you look across the Governor's Schools in Virginia, they do not reflect the diversity, socio-economic or ethnic, of the communities which they serve. What we know to be true is there are talented and gifted students across all statuses who are underrepresented at the Governor's Schools. A 2009 UVA Study that specifically focused on reviewing MLWGS's admissions process talked about the importance of gathering data "that is also reflective of a student's interests and accomplishments outside of scholastic endeavors. For example, students experiences related to the focus MLWGS might include community and political service, debate, or related community or student government. Letters of support or references from relevant agencies and individuals could triangulate these data. These data should not be assigned points as part of the identification process but rather used as secondary sources of information for better understanding of a student interests and commitments that are aligned with the foci of MLWGS.” Today, across many of the Governor's School admissions processes, there is a disregard of these other important elements, in favor of a focus on grades and test scores. In some districts, students who don't have certain test scores, minimum grades or who haven't taken a specific course (even if the curriculum isn't related to the Governor's School's focus), are excluded from even learning about, let alone applying to one of the schools. Whether it be due to limitations in a student's school district, access to resources, or biases in the system, ALL of Virginia's students deserve access to these public institutions of learning, and failure to have guidance in place that will provide equitable access both through pipeline development and adjustments in admissions policies that will not slam the door shut on students who do not have access to the same resources but are nonetheless just as qualified and able to be successful at one of the Governor's Schools. I implore you to vote YES to HB 2305. What has been lost in the opposition is a view that something is being taken away from students who feel entitled to attend the schools. However, Governor's Schools are for ALL qualified students, and giftedness manifests in many different forms, not just test scores.

Last Name: Wang Locality: McLean

Vote NO to HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has heled attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Epstein Locality: Fairfax

Dear Delegates, Please do not vote for HB 2305. Even in its current (shorter) form, HB 2305 points the Board of Education in the wrong direction. Since at least 1998, Governor's Schools have been required to serve students who are so gifted that they will not learn much at their neighborhood high school. As a past president of the TJ PTSA and of the TJ Academic Boosters, I am very familiar with TJ's academic classes and related academic teams. As one principal often said, the TJ version of a course covered more than the "same" Advanced Placement or honors class in neighborhood high schools. In math and science courses especially, this unusual level of rigor was designed to challenge exceptionally gifted students and required unusually strong math skills. The outreach contemplated in HB 2305 only increases the number of 8th grade applicants. Many will have far weaker math skills than past Governor's School students. To accommodate these new students, Governor's Schools will have make their classes easier. Sort of like the classes with the same title in neighborhood high schools. Once that happens, it's hard to see any justification for you to spend $20 million per year on Governor's School supplements. Moreover, why should a local school board pay to bus students to a so-called Governor's School that offers the courses as most neighborhood high schools? If you want to destroy academic excellence at Virginia's Governors Schools, vote for HB 2305. It only requires new "guidance," but the likely result of that guidance will be to eliminate salient differences between neighborhood high schools and Governor's Schools. If you want more Black and Hispanic students admitted to Governor's Schools with enough academic preparation to excel, try a different approach. Require local school districts to offer elementary and middle school programs where young children get a larger dose of math instruction. Require elementary and middle schools to use teachers who earned math or science degree to teach these math classes. In addition, require local school districts to give students credit if they successfully complete Art of Problem Solving math courses, and use Kumon to help young children develop superb computational skills. This is how many of Virginia's strongest math students learned math during elementary, middle and high school. Why not make it easier for more Virginia students to do the same? That will genuinely fix the Governor's School pipeline, instead of artificially filling it with students who force principals and teachers to either make the Governor's School courses easier, or to watch their "new" students struggle to earn Cs or worse. Louise Epstein

Last Name: Dutta Locality: Fairfax

I'm the parent of a child at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I urge you to vote NO on HB2305 which issues guidance on the governance of academic year. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools. Gifted students shouldn’t face discrimination at the hands of Virginia lawmakers. There has been no transparency about this legislation that will determine the future of Governor's school and specifically, TJHSST, America's No. 1 high school. This is not a mere guidance, it's an effort to surreptitiously get rid of gifted education. Public education is being eroded under the false premise of equity. Please talk to gifted education experts. Tests are the fairest and least discriminatory way to evaluate gifted students, who are the top 1.5 percentile of students in cognitive development. They are on the other end of the spectrum as special needs children Governor’s Schools, per the mission, should be for students who have proven records of high academic achievement and a passion for the subject that is the focus of the high school. This Bill is an attempt to shift the focus from failing K-8 education to say the admission process for these specialized high schools is unfair and biased. Don’t let VA educators off the hook for failing Virginia’s students in K-8. Fix the pipeline, strengthen academics, educate our children properly beginning in kindergarten. This Bill is misguided and sidesteps the real issue - educating our students so they can be competitive applicants for our fantastic Governor’s Schools. Anything else hurts our kids and doesn’t address the real issue. Don’t be fooled by this Bill.

Last Name: kannan Locality: Oak Hill

I oppose HB2305. This bill will be used by VA BOE Secretary Qarni to do whatever he want. Just see what TJAAG group email list asking for comments from constituents who are not living in this area and who are not going to even vote, and do not have any children applying to TJ. The only thing they are interested in this bill is this: This bill will "charge" VA BOE with issuing guidance for Governor's schools like TJ to focus on historically underrepresented students - nothing about outreach and dissenting voices. ( SEE LINK BELOW ) https://mailchi.mp/4a731013a800/va-legislation-governors-schools-bill-support?e=f8848f09fd You will responsible for giving Qarni more power for his anti-Asian activities by voting for this bill. I hope wisdom prevails in the committee and you can see through the shenanigans of Anti-asian Qarni, TJAAG and other supporters of this bill.

Last Name: BLOOMQUIST Organization: Rock Spring Locality: GREAT FALLS

Diversity in our top Governor's Schools enhances the learning for all.

Last Name: Swanner Organization: TJ Alumni Action Group Locality: Roanoke

This public comment is submitted on behalf of the TJ Alumni Action Group. TJAAG represents alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who share a mission to enhance accessibility, inclusion, and innovation within STEM education. Over the last several months, TJAAG has been advocating for changes to the TJ admissions process to advance equity in race, gender, socioeconomic status, special education status, English Language Learner status, and improve representative diversity. TJAAG appreciates the changes recently passed by the Fairfax County School Board but there is more work to be done. TJAAG is committed to serving as a long-term partner and resource for the school board, this Assembly, and the Board of Education so that real progress can be achieved. TJAAG members are brought to this work from our lived experiences at TJ and beyond but we are committed to promoting equity in education across the Commonwealth. We hope that TJ can be a leader in equity and a model for public schools across the country. TJAAG supports House Bill 2305, which will charge the Board of Education with issuing guidance on the governance of academic year Governor's Schools, with a focus on increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students. The students who attend many of Virginia’s Governor’s schools do not reflect the demographics of the regions they serve and disproportionately exclude students who are Black, Latinx, and socioeconomically disadvantaged. 29% of Fairfax County students are on free and reduced-price lunch but only 2.4% of students at TJ are. These numbers reflect significant inequities in how schools like TJ reach out to prospective students, equip them to apply, accept, and enroll students. As public schools that receive state funding, Governor’s schools should be accessible to all students, regardless of income level, race, or zip code, and whether they have been recognized by the system as “gifted.” TJAAG believes this legislation will help Virginia’s Governor’s Schools to become more inclusive, which will improve the experience and education of students who are historically underserved as well as the other students who attend these schools. Thank you.

Last Name: Lian Locality: MCLEAN

I am a parent living in McLean, VA, My children are students in 10th and 12th Grade attending TJHSST. I am writing to urge you to stop the HB2305. In an era where data increasing drive our decision making process, I urge the House of Delegates to take a data driven approach to solving a long standing racial inequality issue. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, is a knee jerk reaction and short sighted approach to solving a bigger problem that requires careful analysis and a data driven solution. The focus of the school system should be to increase the pipeline of qualified student to gifted programs and not lowering the standards of admission as a way to increase diversity. We select the Teachers, Principals, Superintendents and School Board members based on qualifications and other factors. The qualifications are driven by the individuals education, background and achievements. We used admission exam as a data point to determine a student's academic performance and aptitude. Eliminating the exam just eliminates a data point for a more holistic evaluation. If HB 2305 is introduced into the House, it will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. It's presence is partially why I was attracted to move to Virginia and it has also attracted many employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit.

Last Name: Reddy Locality: Herndon

(1) The Virginia Board of Education (VBoE) does not require a new bill to "require the VBoE" to issue "guidance" to the Governor's Schools. In fact, it often issues guidance on the stated topics under the current regulations because it is required to do so. By requiring it to do what it is already doing is unnecessary and redundant. (2) Even if we assume this bill adds or clarifies something in the current law, this bill as worded creates more confusion. For example, subsection (i) is asking to VBoE to issue guidance to Governor's Schools on information sessions conducted at feeder middle schools, which creates confusion on the jurisdiction and expense accounting. The middle schools are operated by the local school divisions. The Governor's Schools are operated by the Regional School Boards. There may be some intersectionality, but they are different entities. Can Governor's Schools send their employees to present information sessions at feeder middle schools? The answer is not without dealing with school divisions feeding that Governor's School. For TJHSST, that is 6 different jurisdictions. What guidance would VBoE provide in this case and how would TJHSST pay for the expenses incurred in the process by the FCPS, LCPS, PWCS, etc.? Under subsection (ii) this bill goes even further "strengthening the student pipeline in feeder public middle schools", which is the most absurd requirement to place on Governor's Schools. If this bill is passed, VBoE will be in a bind on guidance to the Governor's Schools. It cannot guide Governor's Schools to interfere with the local school divisions to do anything and it cannot violate this law by not doing anything. (3) There are no guidelines in this bill regarding the "conducting programs related to and evaluations of diversity, equity, and inclusion", yet subsection (iii) listed it as a part of the requirements on VBoE. What are they? These "programs" can range from a simple survey to a program that enforces diversity (ex. sex or race) by hiring a gatekeeper to check students entering the Governor's Schools to achieve diversity each day. What guidance is appropriate under this stipulation? This creates enormous confusion and conflict at Governor's Schools. This subsection is not only unnecessary, but it is a burden and creates enormous scope for the VBoE to violate many other guidelines binding on it already. Overall, this bill is unnecessary at best and problematic in its worst interpretations. I demand Del. Tyler to withdraw this bill in order to improve its language. I request the Committee on Education to reject this bill. There is no need to forward this further and waste precious time of our representatives. The Governor's Schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia are ranked at the top in the nation and are serving the gifted students and providing the most needed leaders to our society. I understand eagerness of some politicians in scoring some points here and there, but this bill is bordering on the absurdity. It achieves nothing useful for the residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please vote against HB2305. Thank you for reading my testimony.

Last Name: SRINIVASAN Locality: RESTON

I'm a Virginia resident and became a US citizen last December. I plan to take an active part in the democratic process by voting in every election and I VERY STRONGLY oppose this bill HB2305. This bill TARGETS Asian Americans by giving carte-blanche powers to activist school boards and enables them to decrease the number of ASIAN AMERICAN students admitted in governors schools.   There are diversity issues in many of the schools in the state including the Governor's schools. So, why is the legislative assembly only concerned with governor's schools? The governor's diversity report is a required form and already asks the school boards for their plans and goals for both faculty and the staff. This guidance bill does not mention about the faculty and staff goals/efforts and only focuses on student population. Does that mean that the eduation committee members don't want to change the root cause of the issue that caused the lack of underrepresented minorities, but to achieve this with targeted outreach for some races? This is illegal if your guidance only talks about targetting some minorities.    Board of Education Secretary Qarni is only going to use this to target minority kids at Governor's schools. This committee and the Secretary are not interested in fixing the real issue by not including guidance for faculty diversity, and this is causing tremendous concerns for the Asian Americans who are equally discrimnated in all ways of life, but are now forced to fight for their rights like in the 1960's. This guidance bill does not talk about lack of diversity in the sports teams in all the shool systems for all major sports - both in faculty and student population. The main supporters of the bill - TJAAG are all graduates of TJ and don't have any stake in the admissions process other than to reduce asian americans.   We are your constituents and so we plead with you to hear our voices and vote NO on this bill HB2305. This guidance is absolutely not necessary. Don't give Secretary Qarni any more fuel for his incendiary comments against Asian Americans. Please don't put Asian American children's careers at stake for your political expediency.   Finally, there is some misconception that saying NO to this bill will hurt your election chances. If you truly believe that your goal is to improve diversity, please vote NO and do what is actually needed to improve diversity. Tell Secretary Qarni to focus his efforts on improving diversity in the faculty at these schools and they will in turn find the talent that is needed. Don't hide your failures with these senseless bills which don't solve the real issue. In the Northern Virginia Area, this bill and these changes are going to have an impact on your electoral chances in the coming elections if you don't listen to your constituents. I urge you to therefore listen to your constituents like myself and vote NO on this bill HB2305.

Last Name: NAVANEETHAKRISHNAN Locality: RESTON

I'm a Virginia resident since 2003 and I VERY STRONGLY oppose this bill HB2305. This bill TARGETS Asian Americans by giving carte-blanche powers to activist school boards and enables them to decrease the number of ASIAN AMERICAN students admitted in governors schools.   There are diversity issues in many of the schools in the state including the Governor's schools. So, why is the legislative assembly only concerned with governor's schools? The governor's diversity report is a required form and already asks the school boards for their plans and goals for both faculty and the staff. This guidance bill does not mention about the faculty and staff goals/efforts and only focuses on student population. Does that mean that the eduation committee members don't want to change the root cause of the issue that caused the lack of underrepresented minorities, but to achieve this with targeted outreach for some races? This is illegal if your guidance only talks about targetting some minorities.    Board of Education Secretary Qarni is only going to use this to target minority kids at Governor's schools. This committee and the Secretary are not interested in fixing the real issue by not including guidance for faculty diversity, and this is causing tremendous concerns for the Asian Americans who are equally discrimnated in all ways of life, but are now forced to fight for their rights like in the 1960's. This guidance bill does not talk about lack of diversity in the sports teams in all the shool systems for all major sports - both in faculty and student population. The main supporters of the bill - TJAAG are all graduates of TJ and don't have any stake in the admissions process other than to reduce asian americans.   We are your constituents and so we plead with you to hear our voices and vote NO on this bill HB2305. This guidance is absolutely not necessary. Don't give Secretary Qarni any more fuel for his incendiary comments against Asian Americans. Please don't put Asian American children's careers at stake for your political expediency.   Finally, there is some misconception that saying NO to this bill will hurt your election chances. If you truly believe that your goal is to improve diversity, please vote NO and do what is actually needed to improve diversity. Tell Secretary Qarni to focus his efforts on improving diversity in the faculty at these schools and they will in turn find the talent that is needed. Don't hide your failures with these senseless bills which don't solve the real issue. In the Northern Virginia Area, this bill and these changes are going to have an impact on your electoral chances in the coming elections if you don't listen to your constituents. I urge you to therefore listen to your constituents and vote NO on this bill HB2305.

Last Name: Kakayadi Locality: Reston

I, a Virginia resident since 2003 and active Virginia voter, VERY STRONGLY oppose bill HB2305. This bill TARGETS Asian Americans by giving carte-blanche powers to activist school boards and enables them to decrease the number of ASIAN AMERICAN students admitted in governors schools.   There are diversity issues in many of the schools in the state including the Governor's schools. So, why is the legislative assembly only concerned with governor's schools? The governor's diversity report is a required form and already asks the school boards for their plans and goals for both faculty and the staff. This guidance bill does not mention about the faculty and staff goals/efforts and only focuses on student population. Does that mean that the eduation committee members don't want to change the root cause of the issue that caused the lack of underrepresented minorities, but to achieve this with targeted outreach for some races? This is illegal if your guidance only talks about targetting some minorities.    Lot of money was spent by TJPF (TJ Partnership Fund) through the LIFT program and all of this money is now unaccounted for as they have not produced any results. Your goal about information sessions will do the same, and it's already being done. If that has not achieved any results then how will this guidance helps, unless if this committee forces School Boards to change their approach by not allotting money to the same policies that failed? They failed because the school boards themselves are not diverse and that problem needs to be solved first.    Board of Education Secretary Qarni is only going to use this to target minority kids at Governor's schools. This committee and the Secretary are not interested in fixing the real issue by not including guidance for faculty diversity, and this is causing tremendous concerns for the Asian Americans who are equally discrimnated in all ways of life, but are now forced to fight for their rights like in the 1960's. This guidance bill does not talk about lack of diversity in the sports teams in all the shool systems for all major sports - both in faculty and student population. The main supporters of the bill - TJAAG are all graduates of TJ and don't have any stake in the admissions process other than to reduce asian americans.   We are your constituents and so we plead with you to hear our voices and vote NO on this bill HB2305. This guidance is absolutely not necessary. Don't give Secretary Qarni any more fuel for his incendiary comments against Asian Americans. Please don't put Asian American children's careers at stake for your political expediency.   Finally, there is some misconception that saying NO to this bill will hurt your election chances. If you truly believe that your goal is to improve diversity, please vote NO and do what is actually needed to improve diversity. Tell Secretary Qarni to focus his efforts on improving diversity in the faculty at these schools and they will in turn find the talent that is needed. Don't hide your failures with these senseless bills which don't solve the real issue. In the Northern Virginia Area, this bill and these changes are going to have an impact on your electoral chances in the coming elections if you don't listen to your constituents. I urge you to therefore carefully consider your options, exercise common sense and vote NO on this bill HB2305.

Last Name: Liu Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose the HB2305 bill. The reasoning is simple and straightforward: a screening process itself (e.g., a standardized test that applies to all applicants) should place all players on a level field of any competition. If the admission process aims to identify gifted and talented applicants for schools like TJ, that universal principle should prevail. For example, athletes have to compete in an Olympics 100-meter sprint tournament by starting from the same line; otherwise, Asian athletes would "reasonably" (along the mysterious reasoning behind HB2305) argue that they should only cover 90 meters (instead of 100)--or, the Olympic Committee could "require" that at least one of the top 3 spots of the 100-meter sprint should be reserved for an Asian athlete. Apparently, no one is willing to see scenarios like the ironic sprint analogy above. Therefore, HB2305 would only sacrifice quality for quota in the admission processes, and it should NOT be considered for serious scrutiny at any stage of the legislative process.

Last Name: Miller Locality: McLean

I am a long-time resident and taxpayer in McLean, VA, and my son attends Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ). HB2305 as now configured seems innocuous enough, but opens the door for wide policy changes by the Board of Education. A longer version of the bill that I've seen leaves no doubt as to what is coming. I am therefore opposed to HB2305. The bill is vague and confusing: "The bill requires such guidance to focus on the importance of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students and to include best practices on (i) conducting information sessions about the school and the availability of gifted, advanced, and specialty education program opportunities for feeder public middle schools; (ii) strengthening the student pipeline in feeder public middle schools, prioritizing the most underserved and underrepresented students and public middle schools; and (iii) conducting programs related to and evaluations of diversity, equity, and inclusion. " I'm confused: Would the Governor's Schools be required to do all of this? Strengthening the pipeline and educating families about the "availability of gifted, advanced, and specialty education program opportunities" should be done by the school boards and school administrations. Admissions to Governor's Schools occurs after many years of preparation, which falls under the school administrations, not Governor's Schools. We need to provide a high-quality education to all of our students, and not tear down schools of excellence as HB2305 would do. Stop making excuses as to why certain groups are underrepresented at TJ and Maggie Walker and instead build a pipeline of qualified students. We need MORE TJs and Maggie Walkers, not fewer. I would support creating new magnet middle and high schools for STEM, the Humanities, the Arts, public policy, and other subject areas that meet the future needs of our workforce and country, with admissions open to all based on interest. Governor’s Schools have an express purpose, that of educating gifted students. Expand quality education in the Commonwealth; do not restrict Governor’s Schools. Leave control of schools to local school boards. Vote NO on this misguided bill.

Last Name: Srinivas Locality: herndon

I oppose bill HB2305. This bill is only intended to reduce ASIAN AMERICAN students in governors schools and will give carte-blanche powers to activist school boards to do whatever they want. Firstly, there are diversity issues all over the state in all the Governor's schools. Is the legislative assembly only concerned about the governor's school's diversity issues at Governor's schools which are already more diverse? The governor's diversity report that is a required form already asks the school boards for their plans and this form includes goals for both the faculty and the staff. This guidance bill does not mention about the faculty and staff goals / efforts and only focuses on student population. Does that mean that the eduation committee members don't want to change the root cause of the issue that caused the lack of underrepresented minorities, but to achieve this with targeted outreach for some races? This is illegal if your guidance only talks about targetting some minorities. Lot of money was spent by TJPF (TJ Partnership Fund) through the LIFT program and all of this money is now unaccounted for as they have not produced any results. Your goal about information sessions will do the same, and it's already being done. If that has not achieved any results then how will this guidance helps, unless if this committee forces School Boards to change their approach by not allotting money to the same policies that failed? They failed because the school boards themselves are not diverse and that problem needs to be solved first. Board of Education Secretary Qarni is only going to use this to target minority kids at Governor's schools. This committe and the Secretary are not interested in fixing the real issue by not including guidance for faculty diversity, and this is causing tremendous concerns for the Asian Americans who are equally discrimnated in all ways of life, but are now forced to fight for their rights like in the 1960's. This guidance bill does not talk about lack of diversity in the sports teams in all the shool systems for all major sports - both in faculty and student population. The main supporters of the bill - TJAAG are all graduates of TJ and don't have any stake in the admissions process other than to reduce asian americans. We are your constituents - plesae listen to us and vote NO for this bill. This guidance is not necessary. Don't give Secretary Qarni any more fuel for his incendiary comments against Asian Americans. Plesae don't put Asian American children's careers at stake for your political expediency. Finally, there is some misconception that saying NO to this bill will hurt your election chances. If you truly believe that your goal is to improve diversity, please vote NO and do what is actually needed. Ask the secretary of education to focus his efforts on improving diversity in the faculty at these schools and they will inturn find the talent that is needed. Don't hide your failures with these senseless bills which don't solve the real issue. In the Northern Virginia Area, this bill and these changes are going to have an impact on your electoral chances in the coming elections if you don't listen to your constituents.

Last Name: Nomani Locality: Great Falls, Virginia

You are using Hispanic and Black students to take a hit on Asian students, particularly from India. Testimony in the 2018 hearing on a similar bill called our parents from India "ravenous." You barred me from speaking in the Monday subcommittee hearing. You are EXCLUDING MINORITY PARENTS. Instead you are listening to a 501c4 political lobbying group, TJ Alumni Action Group. This is part of a RACIST and DISCRIMINATORY campaign against immigrant students and gifted students. VOTE NO on HB2305.

Last Name: Levy Organization: Academic-Year Governor's Schools Directors Committee Locality: Roanoke City

Chairwoman Tyler and members of the committee: I am Mark Levy of Roanoke City. I share these comments on HB2305 in both my role as Director of the Roanoke Valley Governor's School for Science and Technology and as co-chair of the Academic-Year Governor's School Directors Committee, which includes the Directors from the 19 AYGS programs from across Virginia. After reviewing the language included in HB2305, a majority of the members of the committee would like to collectively endorse the framework presented in this bill. Each of the Directors of Governor's School programs across the state believe in the importance of diversity of our student bodies and equity of access to our programs. Our committee believes that local leaders are well-positioned to understand and act on the challenges facing specific communities, and this bill can facilitate successful collaboration of these leaders with state officials to support our mutual goals.

Last Name: Wang Locality: Fairfax

Under Superintendent Dr. Brabrand's mismanagement, FCPS failed in almost every aspect in year 2020 (pandemic handling, distance learning, information security, back-to-school planning etc.). In the past years, FCPS also failed to help minority student groups to succeed academically. FCPS's management team have completely lost confidence in themselves, and are eager to cover up their failures by giving themselves a pro-equity makeup. This bill concurs with "if we cannot do it, let's fake it" by eliminating objective evaluation methods.

Last Name: Zhu Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent of Fairfax County and my son is a graduate of TJHSST. During my son's four years at TJ, he enjoyed an excellency-driven environment, a challenging curriculum, supporting faculties, and friendships from students with different backgrounds. The purpose of governor's school like TJHSST and MLWGSGIS is to prepare future leaders in science and technology, in politics and in humanity. To do this, the schools must meet the need for gifted students and provide sufficient challenges so they can pursue their academic interests together with their peers. While I fully acknowledge the need to promote diversity at these schools, I believe eliminating any academic admission requirements and switching to a lottery based system is the wrong way to do so. A lottery system will provide a student body of average performance and forfeit the exact purpose of establishing these governor's schools. Any students lucky enough to win the lottery to get in will not enjoy the environment of excellency at these schools as before, but an average environment of the entire area--exactly what a non-merit-based, lottery system is. These students will not be better off than staying in their base schools. The goal of promoting under-represented student body should be met by treating the problems at the source and start preparing these students earlier in their academic career. To make the governor's schools average with the lottery system does nobody any good and is unjust to the truly gifted. Please keep TJHSST as excellent as it has always been. Thank you.

Last Name: Bao Organization: All Parents who cares Locality: Fairfax County, Town of McLean

I am strong supporter of diversity and the supporter of helping the economically disadvantaged. However, the idea of a Lottery is just so ridiculous to me. I can support any system that is merit based, including extra point for certain students, but under no circumstance I can understand the idea of lottery, which is totally anti-excellence, anti-efforts and anti any value we hold true in America. We are not gamblers, we are not who enjoys free ride. Lottery is the way to laziness, to luck to mediocrity and eventually to failure! American will go down quickly if our society and our education is base on luck! What message are we sending to our kids? "Hey, you kids don't need to study hard. It is of no use, because your opportunities in the future will not be based on how good, how hardworking you are. It will be just how lucky you are. So save your efforts and just wait for your luck?" Please please please do not use Lottery. I will break the hearts of many hardworking parents and children!

Last Name: Bandam Locality: Chantilly, VA

I am a parent living in Chantilly VA. My son is a student in Fairfax County, Va., attending Rocky Run Middle School. The House Bill No. 2305 introduced on January 19, 2021 seeks to remove the requirement of minimum GPA and required courses, along with prohibiting the use of an admissions test. This bill, if passed, destroys the purpose of establishing the TJHSST. By removing the required courses for applicants, the advanced courses available at TJHSST will become useless and a new set of introductory level courses suitable for these applicants must be offered. By removing the admissions test, the very reason for which was to identify highly gifted students, will admit many underqualified and underprepared students into TJHSST. These changes will destroy the purpose for which a school like TJHSST was established in the first place. I am sympathetic to the cause of the TJHSST equity, but the approach of these destructive policies to improve the equity is totally absurd. Study after study by FCPS, associations for gifted students, black students fund, etc. have concluded the problem is in K-8 education. Fixing it requires commitment and time. I am opposed to the admissions process changes at TJHSST and to the House Bill 2305, as are the 8,000 parents in Fairfax County who are fighting against these changes.

Last Name: Jonnalla Locality: Centreville, VA

I am a parent/student/community member living in Centreville, Va. My daughter is a student of Fairfax County, Va., attending Rocky Run Middle School. HB2305 discriminates against gifted students, They are special ed students who should be protected and respected by Virginia lawmakers and educators -- not be discriminated against and destroyed. The answer: quit making excuses as to why certain groups are underrepresented at TJ and build a pipeline of qualified students. Make more TJs. Don’t ruin TJ.

Last Name: Prodhuturi Locality: Chantilly, VA

I am a parent/student/community member living in Chantilly , Va. My son is a student of Fairfax County, Va., attending Rocky Run Middle School. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students.

Last Name: Epstein Locality: Fairfax

HB 2305 will not close secondary school STEM achievement gaps. That can only be accomplished by changing the way that students are taught math in elementary and middle school. A decade ago, the math department at Stuart HS (now renamed Justice HS) in Falls Church, Virginia figured out that their students needed MORE hours of math instruction. The math teachers dramatically improved their students' math SOL pass rates, among other things. The curriculum specialists from Fairfax County Public Schools destroyed that program. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-administrators-killed-fairfax-schools-math-success/2014/05/25/26632d46-e0a1-11e3-8dcc-d6b7fede081a_story.html The chair of that math department even wrote a book about how that math program was developed and destroyed, "The Algebra Miracle: the true story of a high-poverty school's triumph in the age of accountability." https://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Miracle-High-Poverty-Schools-Accountability/dp/1105416321 If anyone cares about actually reducing math achievement gaps instead of cosmetically hiding them, try an elementary and middle school pilot program where students spend more time learning math, and are required to genuinely master arithmetic before they start algebra 1. Use curricular materials like Kumon to ensure computational fluency, and Art of Problem Solving to develop good quantitative reasoning skills. Then make sure that the FCPS curriculum specialists and other administrators are not allowed to screw the pilot up, and watch the kids start excelling in math. Once middle school students have those exceptional quantitative skills, they will be prepared to excel in future math and science courses, during high school, college and graduate school. Without exceptionally strong quantitative skills, they will never have the necessary foundation to do well in truly rigorous science courses.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Fairfax

Vote NO for HB2305. Eliminating current entrance requirements for current governor's schools helps no one, and does nothing to help "historically underserved students". In fact, HB2305 is blatantly biased against Asian students and families as it will cap how many Asian students can be accepted at VA's governors schools. It's imperative that these schools maintain merit-based admissions tests, which don't discriminate against any ethnic group or gender, but identifies and rewards the most qualified and capable students for placement at either school.

Last Name: Epstein Locality: Fairfax

HB 2305 won't close any actual achievement gaps. It will just disguise them, by artificially jerry-rigging the admissions processes for TJ and other Governor's Schools to meet various de facto quotas. If the goal is to increase STEM achievement of underrepresented minorities, FCPS needs to change its K-8 math curriculum for above-average students. They need to spend much more time on math, and they need to really master basic arithmetic before they tackle algebra. Plenty of parents have figured out that FCPS will never teach their children math in K-8. They use Kumon and the Art of Problem Solving math courses, along with math team problems designed to challenge gifted elementary and middle school students, to make sure their children reach their potential. FCPS has demonstrated its inability to do this properly for decades, with one well-intentioned but misguided math curriculum "reform" after another. Savvy parents recognized those "reforms" as garbage and made sure their children learned math properly outside of FCPS. Less sophisticated parents trusted the FCPS bureaucrats, to their children's detriment.

Last Name: Ambekar Locality: Fairfax

I oppose eliminating the changes to TJHSST admissions process

Last Name: Palle Organization: TJ Coalition Locality: Fairfax

1. I am a parent/student/community member living in Fairfax, Va. My son/I/My friends’ children/My neighbors are students in Fairfax County, Va., attending __Thomas Jefferson High school 2. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. 3. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. It micromanages the County School Boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the County School Boards run their high schools. 4. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. 5. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. 6. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. 7. VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit. 8. We cannot let this corruption continue. 9. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” 10. Gifted students shouldn’t face discrimination at the hands of Virginia lawmakers. 11. HB2305 is an anti-gifted bill and a more detailed version can be viewed at (https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2021/hb2305/fulltext/). 12. HB2305 discriminates against gifted students, They are special ed students who should be protected and respected by Virginia lawmakers and educators -- not be discriminated against and destroyed. 13. The answer: quit making excuses as to why certain groups are underrepresented at TJ and build a pipeline of qualified students. Make more TJs. Don’t ruin TJ. 14. Every Virginian and every American who cares about transparency, education, and fairness should be enraged by this political warfare on Virginia children. 15. #DefeatHB2305 #AdvanceMerit #SaveTJ There is a major attack on merit going on at Virginia schools like TJ. Secretary Qarni has been dishonest in representing state requirements to wage these attacks. There is complete distrust now in the VDOE. This is where this HB 2305 recommendation is coming from - it is not a meaningless guiding document. Please pause any decisions on anything relating to admission at AYGS until these issues have been investigated. The fate of academic excellence in Virginia is at stake.

Last Name: Advani Locality: Herndon, VA

There is a major attack on merit going on at Virginia schools like TJ. Secretary Qarni has been dishonest in representing state requirements to wage these attacks. There is complete distrust now by Democratic constituents in the VDOE. This is where this HB 2305 recommendation is coming from - it is not a meaningless guidance document. Please pause any decisions on anything relating to admission at AYGS until these issues have been investigated. The fate of academic excellence in Virginia is at stake. Secondly, I while I am sympathetic to the equity goals for underrepresented students, the intent behind this guidance is very flawed and DOES not help in finding gifted African American and Hispanic teens who are excelling academically. By removing any objective academic criteria, the bill will "hide" these deserving students and allow local boards to manipulate the implementation of admissions to favor groups who are more vocal. This is a travesty of good policy, I urge you to oppose this Bill. Governor’s Schools should be for students who have proven records of high academic achievement and a passion for the subject that is the focus of the high school. This Bill is an attempt to shift the focus from failing K-8 education to say the admission process for these specialized high schools is unfair and biased. Don’t let VA educators off the hook for failing Virginia’s students in K-8. Fix the pipeline, strengthen academics, educate our children properly beginning in kindergarten. This Bill is misguided and sidesteps the real issue - educating our students so they can be competitive applicants for our fantastic Governor’s Schools. Anything else hurts our kids and doesn’t address the real issue. Don’t be fooled by this Bill.

Last Name: Radhakrishnan Organization: TJ Coalition Locality: DUNN LORING

HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools. Gifted students shouldn’t face discrimination at the hands of Virginia lawmakers. I am sympathetic to the cause of the TJHSST equity, but the approach of these destructive policies to improve the equity is totally absurd. Study after study by FCPS, associations for gifted students, black students fund, etc. have concluded the problem is in K-8 education. Fixing it requires commitment and time. I am opposed to the admissions process changes at TJHSST and to the House Bill 2305, as are the thousands of parents in Fairfax County who are fighting against these changes.

Last Name: Sbitani Organization: TJ Alumni Action Group Locality: Fairfax County

Hi, my name is Nicole Sbitani, and I graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 2010. I am a member of the TJ Alumni Action Group, or TJAAG, a group of over 1,000 alumni advocating for greater inclusion and equity at our alma mater. If I could go back in time and decide whether to attend TJ, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I met my husband there and made lifelong friends. I benefitted from top quality instruction that served me well in college, graduate school, and my career. I participated in groundbreaking research that I wouldn’t have had access to anywhere else. I am grateful for that opportunity, and I worked hard for it. I went to the library every week of my childhood, missed out on a lot of parties to study, joined a lot of clubs, and even attended TJ prep classes. Yet I now know that was more than hard work; it was also luck. I was lucky to go to a school that had clubs like math counts where I could participate. I was lucky to attend a pre-IB program that gave me access to more advanced classes than other public school students. I was lucky my parents had the time and resources to drive me to the library every weekend and enroll me in TJ prep classes and make sure I applied. I was lucky I was born in the United States and spoke English as a first language. I am glad I went to TJ, but there are students who are just as hard-working as I was and just as smart as I was who are being overlooked for our Governor's Schools because they are less lucky than I was. I want them to have just as much of a chance as I did. For decades, we have tried more outreach to elementary and middle schools. We tried incremental change. Those efforts have failed year after year. The #1 high school in the country should be a true innovator when it comes to inclusion. Virginia, renowned not just nationally but worldwide for its excellent public education, should be on the cutting edge and commit to reform that makes an impact. I was heartbroken in a Fairfax NAACP webinar a few months ago to learn that FCPS resisted integration even after desegregation became law. I learned about how at many historical turning points my beloved home state of Virginia prioritized political expediency and the preferences of its most privileged residents over doing the right thing. My heartfelt hope is that future generations will not be learning about how, in 2021, we chose exclusion instead of equity yet again. Rather, I want them to know that we grew from our mistakes and chose a different way. A better way, not just for under-represented groups but for everyone. I am a proud 2nd-generation Asian American immigrant married to another 2nd-generation immigrant and TJ alum, and I’ve been disappointed to hear some try to use our communities as a talking point. Asian Americans are not a monolith, and there is room for many different backgrounds, perspectives, and viewpoints under the extremely broad umbrella term of “Asian”. We have tried the same failed methods for 30 years. It is time to do something meaningful with the moment we have. HB2305 is the bare minimum you, our representatives, can do. If you truly represent all your constituents and not just the most well connected, best resourced, and loudest, then we trust you to do the right thing for all our children, future leaders, and citizens and vote yes on HB2305.

Last Name: Cao Locality: Fairfax

We are parents of the 2nd and the 5th graders living in Fairfax County. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce, which supports strong, sustainable and balanced economy growth. This bill significantly undermines that. HB 2305 is also blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out hard-working and gifted Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. As Virginian residents, we are strongly against to pass HB2305.

Last Name: Su Organization: CAPA-FC Locality: Vienna

The standard test is the fairest way for students from all backgrounds to show their ability in advanced study. The Governor’s Schools, such as TJHSST, need standard tests for fair admission. Please vote NO to bill HB2305 for the fairness to our children.

Last Name: Verma Locality: MCLEAN

I support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, however, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. Recently, a University of California-Berkeley task force found that SAT and ACT scores accurately distinguished among Black and among Hispanic students and did not recommend elimination of SAT. A good test will help identify twice exceptional kids, while over-reliance on GPAs and essays might will not, and the test does this in a race blind manner. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology is not supposed to be a school for students with exceptional verbal gifts, and the failure to use a math test means that admissions will be skewed away from twice exceptional students who are weaker at language arts, regardless of how strong they are in math or science. Giftedness is defined as Asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and “heightened intensity” combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are different from the normal. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. This uniqueness of gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for the child to develop optimally. Essentially stating that gifted and special-needs children are 2 sides of the same coin. Giftedness can be as much a curse as a blessing. This is the reason why Virginia has a law that protects these children. By not being aware of this law, you have grossly neglected these children. What you may not realize is that Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology is a safe haven for many such twice exceptional students who are highly gifted and also have learning disabilities. Their voices are being suppressed. Their academic strengths and weaknesses put them on average scale and hence they are extremely hard to identify. TJ is a place where twice exceptional students can immerse themselves in classes that challenge them in their areas of strength. Some of the required classes are in their weak areas might be stressful, but the social, emotional and academic affirmation that they get from excelling in their areas of strength can more than make up for their struggle with their reading and writing assignments. Some of you who might have special needs children who probably receive special services from the county, so you understand the pain that a parent of such a special needs child endures, so you would also understand why 1000’s of parents are against changing admission processes of TJ. Gifted children can be very hard to identify and work with because they are “too” everything”, they are too sensitive, too intense, too driven, too honest, too idealistic, too morel, too perfectionist and are often accused of too something. Giftedness is an appreciation of unique individual differences that needs to be horned, respected, nurtured and developed. Developing peoples qualities for the good of nation….this is an explosive framework of reference, giftedness needs to be respected as a psychological If we respect there differences, if we understand these children are wired differently these kids will develop, and their gifts will automatically benefit our community when they grow up. So, please say NO to HB-2305, it does not address any of the above concerns for gifted students.

Last Name: Su Organization: CAPA-FC Locality: VIENNA

The standard test is the fairest way for students from all backgrounds to show their ability in advanced study. The Governor’s Schools, such as TJHSST, need standard tests for fair admission. Please vote NO to bill HB2305 for the fairness to our children.

Last Name: Yu Locality: Herndon

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has held attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Saraf Locality: Vienna

Vote NO to HB2305! I am a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Technology (TJ), and I am asking that you strongly OPPOSE HB2305. There are a multitude of fallacies that are outlined in HB2305. Number one is the guideline to remove standardized tests. This guideline is detrimental to student's preparedness for TJ. Students require a certain level of mental capability and problem solving ability to cope with TJ's unique, critical thinking driven curriculum. Looking at student's middle school GPAs and coursework will not be able to accurately test for these areas, as students come from different middle schools with easier coursework. Number two is the regulation for economically disadvantaged students to get a 10% boost in the admissions process. This guideline is extremely disturbing, as it is unfathomable that law makers would rather give economically disadvantaged students a 10% advantage in the admissions process, rather than addressing how to help the disadvantaged compete in the admissions process. It seems law makers themselves don't think that the education and support in school is enough for the disadvantaged to compete. Therefore, shouldn't that be the focus of this bill!!! To create support for the disadvantaged rather than artificially creating their presence in a school they may not be able to cope with! In fact, the college board implemented a similar policy before removing it due to criticism from education experts, saying it was doing more bad than good. Number three is the recommendation that no more than 5% of students from one middle school can attend TJ. This guideline is confusing and hard to understand. If a student goes to a middle school where a higher percentage of kids go to TJ then they are disadvantaged! Why disadvantage anyone? This policy does tremendous more bad compared to good. In no way should anyone try to disadvantage a student based on where they live! Due to the reasons outlined, I strongly urge you to VOTE NO to HB2305!

Last Name: Lu Locality: Fairfax

Please don’t mess up with our education! Please vote NO! All kids are entitled to the education that can meet their needs, including gifted kids. Gifted kids’ needs cannot be met in regular schools. We need governor schools continue focusing on meeting the needs of the gifted kids!

Last Name: Saraf Locality: Vienna, VA

I oppose HB 2305. Being a parent of a 9th grader and a 6th grader, I believe that every 8th grader has the same opportunity to apply to these Governor’s schools. The Fairfax County and Virginia School system provides opportunities to students of all calibers and capabilities during the various stages of the education system from K-12. There is no reason to bring down the students who work hard, aspiring to go to the Governor's school like TJHSST. The State of Virginia benefits form these high quality students who graduate from the Governor's schools. "Fix the pipeline, strengthen academics, educate our children properly beginning in kindergarten". In the name of equity, this Bill is misguiding and sidestepping the real issue - educating our students so that they can be competitive applicants for our fantastic Governor’s Schools. Anything else hurts our kids and doesn’t address the real issue. Don’t be fooled by this Bill. Vote "no" for HB 2305.

Last Name: Yongbao wang Organization: as parents Locality: Fairfax, Chantilly

I strongly oppose the proposal for cancelling entry exam for magnetic school, esp. Thomas Jefferson Science and Technology High School. This bill, HB2305, indeed is the opposite of equal education, it deprives the opportunities for some academically advanced students entering to this school , since standardized test will be no longer used to measure student academic level (bill C. 1 and 2), consequently it deprives the equal opportunities for these students to learn more advanced classes, which usually TJ teaches, meanwhile this bill will lower the overall academic levels currently TJ is teaching its students. THIS IS A BAD BILL. it totally defeat the purpose why our state establishes this type of school, it is for advancing our overall education level, giving more learning opportunity for some students. Equal opportunity means to have every student to get educated equally for her or his learning experience. By lottery system to entry into a magnetic school is a terrible idea, if you want to play basketball for school team, you should go to try, not by lottery. if you want to go to school drama class , you have to go for a live interview, not by lottery. By lottery is to put socialism into education, needless to say, this will adversely affect teaching experiences from teachers and learning experiences of students. My son graduated from TJ in 2018 and entered his dream college, The fact that TJ continually ranks as #1 or #2 among US high schools is a testimony of its successes, including its screening process, teaching and learning. I strongly opposed this bill, it will make TJ no longer a TJ, it will kill a star school in our region. I strongly suggest to keep current enrollment system. Sincerely Yongbao Wang

Last Name: Sanchezconcha Organization: Richmond Public Schools & the Virginia Latino Advisory Board Locality: Richmond City

I am an educator in Richmond Public Schools, serve on the Governor’s Latino Advisory Board, and am a product of public education in Virginia; and I am in support of HB 2305 to charge the Board of Education with issuing guidance in reference to Governor’s School. The truth is, representation significantly matters, and these schools are not reflective of their community or the Commonwealth as a whole. An intentional effort must be in place for these schools to address the disproportionality and inequity as a result of it. As a product of public education in Virginia myself, I saw first hand the impact of this. I have a twin brother, and I had various opportunities to take more rigorous coursework and he was not, our two paths lead us to different outcomes. While my brother is successful in his trade and I in my career, I can’t help but think that our paths diverged due to different educational opportunities we were granted despite our otherwise very similar lives. As an educator I have students who were never given the opportunity to take rigorous, college-level coursework. When given the chance I saw them doubt themselves and struggle, but ultimately meet the challenges and grow because of it. None of them have ever regretted taking that path, and while both of these examples don’t specifically speak to Governor’s schools, its the very same dynamic taking place here. It is typically marginalized, racially underrepresented, or low social-economic status families that are misrepresented in the make up of Governor’s schools. We know that when given the opportunity, students will rise up to the challenge. Additionally, we know that equity means we need to make very specific and intentional efforts in certain areas versus others. Our Latino population is the fastest growing in the Commonwealth and one we must listen to more. Every single Latinx friend I have who went to a Governor’s School admits there’s a problem that needs to be addressed there. This bill will allow for this very important change to begin. The bill lines up with the vision of equity and opportunity that me (a Latino immigrant who works with Latino immigrants) and the Latino Advisory Board shares Recently, I was appointed to the Equity Enrollment Commission, a new endeavor from Richmond Public Schools, to address this very topic. In our first meeting, along with other stakeholders, we realized just how real and important these conversations were. I also noted that this would not be an easy thing to fix and one that might require a change that we cannot even pinpoint or envision at the moment. The fact that this bill would allow for these conversations to happen in a larger scale and with a state-wide impact is why I am submitting this testimony today in support of HB 2305. Thank you.

Last Name: King Locality: Fairfax station

The governors schools were designed for kids whose exceptional needs cannot be met at their home school. My son attends Thomas Jefferson HS as a freshman and finally is in a learning environment that meets his needs, academically and socially. Having a gifted child presents its own unique challenges that unless you are a parent of an exceptional mind, you cannot appreciate. My son spent his entire school career feeling different and treated differently by his peers and teachers alike. He was often bored and was never challenged. Just like a child with a developmental delay and who requires special education to meet their unique needs, it’s the EXACT same thing for gifted children but on the opposite side of the spectrum. I guarantee no one would be taking away school or programs for kids in special education or English learners, so why is it fair to take away something from children who have cannot be taught in a regular/traditional school? For anyone who thinks that going to TJ is a stepping stone to a better college or that it’s a school that all children should be allowed to go to, is unaware and ignorant to the design of it. Again, it’s about children with an ability that cannot be met at their homeschool. Kids come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and learning abilities. Having Governor’s schools for children with exceptional abilities has been a life ring to so many. Do not remove these schools and take away from a specific group of children who have a unique need that can only be met at their governor school.

Last Name: Fallon Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I am asking that you opposed HB 2305. There has been no meaningful community notification of this Bill. Why is it being rushed with no transparency? Admission to high-achieving Governor’s Schools should be based on merit, not quotas. VDOE is failing many minority students in K-8 education. Hold these educators and schools accountable, don’t simple address these failures by putting unprepared students in rigorous high schools to make the numbers look good. Engage schools like TJ, engage current students and families. Please don’t allow professional education lobbying groups like 501c4 TJ Alumni Action Group to dictate policy at a school they don’t attend, don’t have children attending, or haven’t attended themselves for over 2 decades. The problem is not at the point of application to these high schools - it is in the 8+ years leading up to the point of application. All of our students deserve strong K-8 education - please focus VDOE efforts there, not at removing merit and academic excellence from our AYGS. Fix the pipeline. Our students deserve quality K-8 education, and beyond.

Last Name: lee Locality: fairfax

This bill is definitely going to completely destroy the STEM programs in Governor's schools such as Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technologies (TJHSST). The only way to keep the STEM program prosperous is to keep the merit base and this is decided by the nature of science and technologies, and it it should be affected by politics or anything else. Cancellation or destroy the STEM programs in Governor's schools will significantly and adversely affect the future of VA from many aspects. Please stop this crazy and highly politically biased bill.

Last Name: Zhou Locality: Vienna

I am a parent living in Vienna, Va. My children were students in Fairfax County, Va., attending TJHSST. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House.  It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond.  The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce.  This bill changes that.   HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian.  It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school.  This is designed to keep out Asian students.  The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school.  Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit.

Last Name: Srinivas Locality: Herndon

I oppose HB 2305.  Giving complete authority to the Board of Education will provide an opportunity to Secretary Qarni to further discriminate against Asian Americans. Qarni is already using his position to discriminate against Asian Americans by pushing illegal changes for admissions at TJ HSST.  Under the guise of filling a diversity form, Fairfax County Public Schools made drastic changes to the admission process which has already caused so much stress for the incoming freshman class of 2021. Now, under this bill, a simple guidance will be misused by the local school divisions to push whatever changes they want to do. Every 8th grader has the same opportunity to apply to these Governor’s schools. Don’t let VA educators off the hook for failing Virginia’s students in K-8. Fix the pipeline, strengthen academics, educate our children properly beginning in kindergarten. This Bill is misguided and sidesteps the real issue - educating our students so they can be competitive applicants for our fantastic Governor’s Schools. Anything else hurts our kids and doesn’t address the real issue. Don’t be fooled by this Bill.   I am sympathetic to the cause of the TJHSST equity, but the approach of these destructive policies to improve the equity is totally absurd. Study after study by FCPS, associations for gifted students, black students fund, etc. have concluded the problem is in K-8 education. Fixing it requires commitment and time.  I am opposed to the admissions process changes at TJHSST and to the House Bill 2305, as are the 8,000 parents in Fairfax County who are fighting against these changes.   

Last Name: Shastri Locality: Fairfax County

I am a parent of Fairfax County Public School system. I oppose HB2305. TJHSST students should be chosen based on the performance - not race. If not enough minorities are accepted, then the work needs to be started in elementary school. TJHSST has a rigorous academic program for gifted students. HB2305 is an anti-gifted bill. Please do not destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond.

Last Name: Siruvori Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent of a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I oppose HB2305. This bill is biased against gifted students and carefully drafted as “guidance” to school boards, but the intent and Objective was to destroy the merit and hardwork. I urge you not to fall for this trap, oppose HB2305 to save TJHSST, Maggie Walker Governor schools and the future of our state.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Vienna

Standards are set to distinguish not to be inclusive. As a high achiever minority it offends me to have standards lowered for achievement based on anything other than hard work.

Last Name: Vadde Locality: Loudoun, Ashburn

The House Bill No. 2305 introduced on January 19, 2021 seeks to remove the requirement of minimum GPA and required courses, along with prohibiting the use of an admissions test. This bill, if passed, destroys the purpose of establishing the TJHSST. By removing the required courses for applicants, the advanced courses available at TJHSST will become useless and a new set of introductory-level courses suitable for these applicants must be offered. By removing the admissions test, the very reason for which was to identify highly gifted students will admit many underqualified and underprepared students into TJHSST. These changes will destroy the purpose for which a school like TJHSST was established in the first place. I am sympathetic to the cause of the TJHSST equity, but the approach of these destructive policies to improve the equity is totally absurd. Study after study by FCPS, associations for gifted students, black students fund, etc. have concluded the problem is in K-8 education. Fixing it requires commitment and time. I am opposed to the admissions process changes at TJHSST and to House Bill 2305, as are the 8,000 parents in Fairfax County who are fighting against these changes.

Last Name: Nagar Locality: Herndon

I hope the house lawmakers do the right things and protect children by voting AGAINST house bill 2305. Just like a simple diversity guidance provided by the Virginia state board of education in summer of 2019 led the FCPS school board to gut the admission tests at TJHSST, HB2305, while sounding harmless, is misguided, and will lead to the destruction of public education in Virginia. Taxpayers in Fairfax will be watching your votes, so please vote NO on HB2305.

Last Name: Hayes Organization: Thomas Jefferson Alumni Action Group Locality: Centreville

My name is Dr Andrew Hayes, Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Alumni Action Group. I would like to urge you to vote in favor of Bill 2305, directing the Commonwealth Board of Education to give guidance to the admissions process of each of Virginia's governor's schools. The status quo allows the unacceptable lack of representative diversity to continue in these schools, that should serve their entire communities, not just those already most likely to succeed without the opportunities.

Last Name: Sharma Locality: Herndon, VA

I am a parent of middle school students. We need to provide a high-quality education to all of our students, and not tear down schools of excellence as HB2305 would do. Stop making excuses as to why certain groups are underrepresented at TJ and Maggie Walker and instead build a pipeline of qualified students. We need MORE TJs and Maggie Walkers, not fewer. I would support creating new magnet middle and high schools for STEM, the Humanities, the Arts, public policy, and other subject areas that meet the future needs of our workforce and country, with admissions open to all based on interest.

Last Name: Liu Locality: Fairfax

HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Su Locality: Fairfax County

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has held attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Chantilly Resident Locality: Fairfax County

As a resident of Fairfax County and Northern VA, I strongly oppose the proposed version of HB 2305 . HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB2305 discriminates against gifted students, They are special ed students who should be protected and respected by Virginia lawmakers and educators -- not be discriminated against and destroyed.

Last Name: Ma Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent living in Herndon, Virginia. My son is attending Fairfax County Public Schools. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has heled attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools! ​Thanks for your time and efforts to consider our petition.

Last Name: Osganian Locality: Fairfax County

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has held attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: McCaskill Locality: Fairfax County

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has held attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Breinig Locality: Fairfax

I hope the house lawmakers do the right things and protect children by voting AGAINST house bill 2305. Just like a simple diversity guidance provided by the Virginia state board of education in summer of 2019 led the FCPS school board to gut the admission tests at TJHSST, HB2305, while sounding harmless, is misguided, and will lead to the destruction of public education in Virginia. Taxpayers in Fairfax will be watching your votes, so please vote NO on HB2305.

Last Name: Nomani Locality: Great Falls, Virginia

I'm a parent with a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and I am a journalist. I am shocked about the lack of transparency surrounding this critical legislation that will determine the future of TJ, America's No. 1 high school. I'm a member of the PTSA, as well, and there has been absolutely NO outreach with the TJ community. You have marginalized our community, and you have not given us a seat at the table. On the substance of this legislation, there is another longer version of this legislation on Richmond Sunlight https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2021/hb2305/ It is much more detailed than the limited paragraph on the official Virginia legislative site. Why is that? The idea that the Virginia legislature would dictate -- even in the ruse of "guidance" -- new rules to local school boards to eliminate merit-based tests is outrageous. Talk to gifted education experts. Tests are the fairest and least discriminatory way to evaluate gifted students, who are the top 1.5 percentile of students in cognitive development. They are on the other end of the spectrum as special needs children, and they should be considered special education. Why is the Virginia legislature considering legislation to discriminate against gifted students? This bill should NOT advance, and you all need to start engaging the TJ community of families and Fairfax County families with gifted students, rather than excluding us and discriminating against our students. We should NOT be hearing about this legislation the day before your hearing, while activists from a 501c4 political action lobbying group (TJ Alumni Action Group) have been quietly working with some of your lawmakers to craft this legislation. We are the parents in the trenches of education. and while Virginia families face a crisis with education and schools closed, you should not be attacking gifted students as you are doing here. Stop going after gifted students at TJ and start nurturing and supporting them. They -- like all children -- are precious, and they are key to the success of the future of Virginia and America. I'm at asra@asranomani.com. Engage us.

Last Name: Nagar Locality: Fairfax

I am a parent living in Herndon, Va. My children are students in Fairfax County, Va., attending Rachel Carson Middle School. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. It micromanages the County School Boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the County School Boards run their high schools. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit. We cannot let this corruption continue. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Gifted students shouldn’t face discrimination at the hands of Virginia lawmakers.

Last Name: AGARWAL Locality: Fairfax

If the purpose of TJ is to get exceptional ability students, I don’t see any reason why test is not required. This should be all round assessment which will not be possible without tests. This bill seems to be against the kids who devote their time to study various topics for a great future. Without this, we are going to be teaching our kids to not focus on learning. This will also put the kids who are not ready for TJ and still got through because if new criteria, to maybe have a difficult time . This might also put them under pressure that might break them at such an early age. This could have long lasting mental impact. I oppose this bill

Last Name: Rao Locality: Ashburn, VA

I am a parent living in Ashburn, Va. My son is a current student attending Thomas Jefferson High school. Quick poll for you all- How many of you would like the seat you are currently holding in the house be determined by a lottery? Would you like to be delegate because you won an election (an objective measure) or would you be willing for house delegates to be decided by names picked from a bowl containing names of all interested candidates? If you would not want a lottery to determine your future, why do you want it for our kids? There have been a lot of changes proposed to the admission process for the Governor schools in the past few months. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing all objective measures of readiness for a gifted school, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. Removing minimum requirements in terms of GPA/pre-requisite course makes zero sense. You really need to fix the pipeline that feeds into schools such as TJ. You need to create laws that allow underrepresented populations to become part of the pipeline. Forcibly incorporating children that are not be ready for the rigors of a high school of TJ's caliber, in the name of equity, is a lose-lose-lose situation. The children that were not ready for TJ but were offered a spot lose, the children that were ready but were not selected due to lottery lose and the school/community at large loses. Think about this- A child that is not ready for TJ but is offered a spot is not likely to take advantage of the higher level courses available at TJ. This is no fault of the child. It is the fault of the system that did not prepare the child. HB 2305 is converting admissions to a matter of luck via the lottery scheme, rather than one of student readiness for higher level/more intense courses. The lottery scheme, by its very nature, almost guarantees that student readiness/accomplishments play little part in the admissions process. Please understand that gifted children are no different than other special-ed children. They need a challenging environment to grow and thrive. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students, at one end of the spectrum. Please don't destroy it. The purpose of a gifted school is to nurture children that are gifted. Please don't make it into a forum for equity. There is no gifted school without gifted children (Please don't use the cliche we have all heard so often- "All our kids are gifted". It insults the intelligence of your constituents). To conclude- Have an objective measure for admittance to TJ. Do not make it a matter of luck. Do not make it into a lottery scheme. Improve the availability of programs in K-8 that identifies and nurtures children of under-represented populations. VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit.

Last Name: Li Locality: Fairfax County

I am a parent living in Northern Virginia, My children are students attending Fairfax County Public Schools. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically under-served students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305. Thank you.

Last Name: Li Locality: Fairfax county

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to Save TJ and high tech jobs in Virginia!

Last Name: Mitra Locality: Fairfax County, Va

I would like to oppose the bill for eliminating standardized testing for entrance to Governor’s schools such as Thomas Jefferson and Maggie Walker. These schools are the state’s assets. They drive the economy in this area by maintaining high standards and producing highly qualified professionals who then serve the society. TJ is a STEM school and every year top notch graduates are produced by this school who then serve to bolster the economy of this area. Many businesses and families decide to exist in the area because of these magnet schools. Standardized testing is a proven way to ensure that the baseline population in the school meets the standards required to attend these magnet schools. Removing standardized testing alone is not the answer to increasing diversity in these schools. The schools must take a comprehensive approach of increasing the pipeline, strengthening outreach programs to the underprivileged and starting an effort ground up to promote education among all sections of the society so that we have a truly diverse population in these schools who are also at par with each other intellectually and academically. Eliminating standardized testing will only work towards reducing the high standards of the magnet schools. It will increase diversity by allowing unprepared students to get admitted at the cost of students who actually meet the needs and are prepared to attend the magnet school, there by also reducing the standards of education in the schools.

Last Name: Dutta Locality: Fairfax

HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Every Virginian and every American who cares about transparency, education and fairness should be enraged by this political warfare on Virginia children. #DefeatHB2305 #AdvanceMerit #SaveTJ

Last Name: AggrievedAsian Organization: Association of Asian Americans Betrayed by Democrats (AAABD) Locality: NoVA

Asian Americans are highly concentrated in small areas of Northern Virginia. Most of them (more than 90%) voted for Democratic Party in all elections to turn Fairfax County into a reliable bastion for Democrats. However, the Democrats have betrayed them. Introducing HB2305 with limits on number of students that can go to TJHSST from each middle school is very racist. It would have been easier and simpler if the wording said "Maximum 5% from China Town" or "Herndon, VA" or "Vienna, VA" instead of that convoluted wording . AAABD strongly condemns these racist attacks on Asian Americans, whose presence is the only reason for all these TJ admission process changes in FCPS, court battles, legislative changes, and outright online and social media campaigns by Democrats belittling Asian Americans and demonizing them for all the ills. Which one of you are planning to start a party targeting Asian Americans for next Holocaust?

Last Name: McCaskill Locality: Fairfax county

While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has held attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Yang Locality: Oakton, VA

While I support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB2305 discriminates against gifted students, and against all the hardworking Virginia children. Every Virginian and every American who cares about transparency, education and fairness should be enraged by this political warfare on Virginia children.

Last Name: Chikka Locality: Fairfax County

I am a FCPS parent and I oppose this bill. Equal participation is vital and always welcome, but the approach taken is so unscientific. This bill will bring down the standards of STEM education in one of the best STEM schools in country. A better and sensible approach would be to plan ahead, identify kids right from the beginning from under represented elementary schools, instill in them interest for STEM, give them tools and exposure. They will naturally be prepared to embrace, be enthusiastic and enjoy STEM. If the intention is to help under represented kids, an earnest effort is required from STATE and FCPS, not halfhearted attempts like before, which all have failed. A sincere and good intentioned effort will result in better outcome than half baked political ideas. Please do not destroy STEM eco system in Fairfax county, which will have long lasting economic consequences on housing market and cutting technology industry acceptance of Fairfax as a powerhouse of STEM talent.

Last Name: Yadlapalli Organization: None Locality: Chantilly

This is racial discrimination and you are targeting asian communities. The admissions fie these schools should be merit based and shoulsd not be biased based on race

Last Name: Yee Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Vienna

Dear House Delegates, I am a parent living in Vienna, VA, My children are students in Fairfax County Public School attending Spring Hill Elementary School. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit. Sincerely, Jeannie Yee

Last Name: Patel Locality: Fairfax, VA

The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Please Please don’t do this!!!!

Last Name: Daniel Wang Locality: Fairfax County

I am a parent living in Fairfax County, My children are students in FCPS attending TJHSST. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Fairfax County

H.R. 2305 is completely uncessary. Fairfax County has already adopted a holistic admissions program for its Governor's School Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) and has already eliminated the standardized test. This bill overrules the judgement of Fairfax County's all-Democratic School Board and its decision to require a minimum 3.5 GPA for TJ applicants. It also overules Fairfax County School Board's decision to require a problem solving test for math and science in TJ's admissions. This bill amounts to total micromanagement and replaces the considered view of the Fairfax County School Board (which held multiple public hearings on TJ Admissions) with a ham-handed and untested edict from Richmond. The Commonwealth should not micromanage county school boards. Stay out. Glenn Miller Fairfax County

Last Name: Li Locality: Fairfax

Please vote NO to HB 2305! I am a parent living in Fairfax county. My daughter is student in 8th attending RCMS. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to #SaveTJ #AdvanceMerit. Thanks, Longni Li

Last Name: Pang Locality: Fairfax

This is ridiculous! No test and lottery to get into a governed school! How about using the same method to get into elite colleges and get a high pay job in a prestigious company? Even lottery to decide who should be the governor and school principals? What happened to the American value of earn through hard work?

Last Name: Li Locality: MCLEAN

Who will benefit from Removing admission test for the governors school? The blacks? No, they won't. Without the race-blind, merit based admission test, governor schools will be destroyed over night. Without a gifted student body, governors schools will be no better than the base schools. The only thing left will be an empty shell, a hollow school name. Only the rich people who can afford sending their kids to private schools will benefit from this bill. This bill is ill-advised. Please vote No to save TJ and Maggie Walker.

Last Name: Jia Locality: McLean

I am a parent living in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia. We have an eighth grader attending Longfellow Middle School and a Junior attending Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I am writing to you to urge you to stop the HB2305. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admission exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. HB 2305 has been introduced into the House. It will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. The proposed changes to TJ and other Governor’s Schools are designed to take the gifted out of “gifted schools.” Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. This bill changes that. HB 2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Maggie Walker from each middle school. This is designed to keep out Asian students. The actions of the Fairfax County Public Schools have been shocking, breaking the law in late 2020 by eliminating the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, America’s No. 1 high school. Please VOTE NO for HB2305 to Save TJ and Advance Merit.

Last Name: Miller Locality: McLean, VA

Dear House Education Committee Members, I am a long-time resident and taxpayer in McLean, VA, and my son attends Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ). I understand HB2305 has been introduced in the House and will be before the Education Subcommittee tomorrow morning. I am opposed to this proposed legislation. While I support the goal of increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students, removing the admissions exam, as this bill specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. Moreover, it amounts to the Commonwealth taking over the admission process of Governor’s schools and usurping local School Boards. We need to provide a high-quality education to all of our students, and not tear down schools of excellence as HB2305 would do. Stop making excuses as to why certain groups are underrepresented at TJ and Maggie Walker and instead build a pipeline of qualified students. We need MORE TJs and Maggie Walkers, not fewer. I would support creating new magnet middle and high schools for STEM, the Humanities, the Arts, public policy, and other subject areas that meet the future needs of our workforce and country, with admissions open to all based on interest. Governor’s Schools have an express purpose, that of educating gifted students. Expand quality education in the Commonwealth; do not restrict Governor’s Schools. Leave control of schools to local school boards. Vote NO on this misguided bill. Sincerely, Helen Bowman Miller McLean, VA

Last Name: Zheng Locality: VIENNA

Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has helped attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly-skilled workforce. HB 2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Chen Organization: Coalition4TJ Locality: Fairfax County

I am Hanning Chen living in McLean, Virginia. My three daughters are attending Fairfax County Public Schools. While we support the goal of increasing access to Governor’s Schools for historically underserved students, elimination of the admission exam as HB2305 specifies, is not the way to accomplish this goal. The bill micromanages the county school boards by taking over the admission process of Governor’s Schools. The Commonwealth should stay out and let the county school boards run their high schools. In particular, HB2305 will destroy Governor’s Schools, the crown jewels of Northern Virginia and Richmond. Governor’s Schools have always been schools for gifted students. Their presence has heled attract employers to the Commonwealth as well as playing a critical role in developing a highly skilled workforce. This bill will completely change that. Moreover, HB2305 is blatantly anti-Asian. It arbitrarily caps the number of students admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), and Maggie Walker High School for Government and International Studies (MW), from each middle school. The bill is designed to keep out Asian American students. In fact, the proposed changes to TJ, MW and other Governor’s Schools are intended to take the gifted out of “gifted schools”. Taken all together, please vote NO for HB2305 to save our Governor’s Schools!

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Herndon

I am an African American and parent of a TJ freshman and a 7th grader that desires to go to TJ. This proposal is a manifestation of Marxism that will undermine advanced academic education, a deterrent to attracting business in the area, and does not address the root causes of the issue, a lack of diversity in the FCPS workforce, and inequities in the advanced academic pipeline.

Last Name: Bhaskar Locality: Herndon

The admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) is a very passionate issue for many Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students and parents. TJ has been the pride of the FCPS and attracts residents from all over the country. Businesses in Fairfax county are beneficiaries of TJ and have been very supportive of TJ. Graduates of TJ have been serving local businesses in high technology fields. Notwithstanding all these good things and achievements, there is an unresolved issue at TJ for the last 35 years. The student population does not represent the general FCPS racial composition. There are fewer Blacks and Hispanics. The primary (and probably the only material) reason for this underrepresentation is the failure of FCPS to educate Blacks and Hispanics in the elementary and middle school levels. These segments of students have been historically neglected from the very early age and they grossly underperform compared to the general FCPS students. These inequities in the K-8 education naturally manifest in underrepresentation of those segments of students at TJ. This same reason is causing the inequity at the other Governor's Schools in VA. The House Bill 2305 tries to remedy equity issue by absurd means. It neglects the facts about the inequity throughout K-8 and scapegoats the Governor's Schools which have to draw students from beleaguered K-8 system. In FCPS middle schools, by the time students enter 6th grade, the difference between lowest level math performer to the highest level math performers is 6 grade levels (lowest performers at 3rd grade level and highest level performers at 9th grade level). These students with such vast differences will show that difference in any admissions test or course level requirements. This bill is trying to erase that difference by eliminating the test and by not having any course requirements. It is flawed approach, it fails to address the problem, it does not even scratch the surface of the real problem, perhaps it will even create more problems in the coming years. This bill will not help any students in anyway because it forces mismatching the students to the schools. I request the Education Committee to recommend its withdrawal. I request the House of Delegates to reject this bill.

Last Name: Venigalla Locality: Herndon

I am an Asian american parent of a middle schooler and we live in Northern Virginia. When we moved from New Jersey in 2010, we chose Fairfax county over Maryland and Loudoun County for its superior schooling system and opportunities for kids to excel in the areas they are interested in, irrespective of race. When we bought a house in Herndon in 2013 despite its high home prices and taxes, it's because the county school system provided pathways to kids interested in STEM via race neutral standardized tests. Kids played by FCPS rules to do well in 1st and 2nd grade tests to qualify and went through the system and my sons worked hard to study for the STEM test scheduled for last December to get into Thomas Jefferson High School. That's when some activist groups in guise of TJAAG and in collaboration with politicians in Richmond started demonizing asian kids and families as priviliged and racist. It's unfortunate that a few of the school board members that have no STEM background went along with the scheme to attack asian families by invoking George Floyd tragedy and call anyone opposed to their scheme as White Supremacist. They removed the test despite fervent appeals from several parents in numerous board meetings to further their activist agenda. As an asian, we have always voted democrat including this past election, so to see some of these activists (including Education Secretary Qarni), in the guise of democratic supporters attack us as racist and anti-black is painful. It's appalling that Mr Qarni even conducted a public Facebook live event (https://doe-virginia-gov.zoom.us/rec/play/J2fbDsthHW0l8Rz18mNGD53Dhd8aOTntJJvz-Ew3YdvKsEn8qmbSfcrEvr-dLBtkanSMAXCSIKjLkOok.dC5_wXNvy-wzy3dt) targeting Asian americans and called us anti-black. This is poor behavior for a public official in charge of education and he needs to be censured for his poor behavior. This bill is blatantly racist against asians and a continuation of the agenda of activist politicians in Richmond and Northern Virginia as stated above. Calling a STEM test to get into the top STEM school in the nation as racist is by itself racist. It's unbelievable that in the 21st century where America is falling behind asian countries in producing enough STEM graduates, instead of creating more such schools to provide opportunity to additional kids, the state is even considering such bill that does exactly the opposite and water down the standards of TJ and Maggie Walker. I just found out that the admission director at TJ openly admitted that for the 2021 admission cycle, they would be giving preference to Black /LatinX kids and kids from poorer backgrounds over other kids when considering kids of equal educational aptitude. This is deeply disturbing and is a federally prohibited discrimination on base of race. Are these elected leaders also considering such moves to water down standards in sports teams so all races are equally represented and not just a select few? I would be against such move as well since it removes the motive of anyone to work hard to excel in the area of their expertise, irrespective of race. I fervently appeal to you to immediately gut this thoughtless and counter productive bill and work on "real solutions" to encourage kids of under-represented sections to do well in STEM fields and add to the dearth of such graduates in the US.

Last Name: Reddy Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose House Bill Number 2305. In the name of equity, it destroys the Governor's Schools, especially nation's #1 ranked Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST or TJ). The TJ offers advanced STEM courses that are not available at other Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). At the same time, it has fewer choices for introductory level courses. For this reason, the student population must be properly qualified to effectively use what the TJ has to offer. Since its inception, TJ was operated as a place for highly gifted students, 480 of whom are selected from 3,500 gifted applicants. Without a test to identify highly gifted students from among students who have completed advanced math and science courses, there is plenty of scope to admit underprepared students and reject more deserving students. Moreover, underprepared students will not be able to use advanced courses/labs at TJ, while at the same time forcing the TJ to offer introductory level courses to meet the abilities of underprepared students. This wastes precious resources available to train the best students who could support our technology businesses. By prohibiting the use of admissions test and requirement of courses, TJHSST admissions criteria is brought down below the level of rigor required for regular FCPS high school with AAP. It is unfathomable how a student who has to satisfy course work requirement and test to enter AAP courses is not even required to satisfy them for TJ. It sends a message to students who failed to get into AAP to apply for TJ. It is impossible to understand why the Budget provides additional amounts to these Governor's Schools to force them to perform at lower level than regular high schools. I oppose this bill.

Last Name: Levy Organization: Academic-Year Governor's Schools Directors Committee Locality: Roanoke City

Chairman VanValkenburg and members of the subcommittee: I am Mark Levy of Roanoke City. I share these comments on HB2305 in both my role as Director of the Roanoke Valley Governor's School for Science and Technology and as co-chair of the Academic-Year Governor's School Directors Committee, which includes the Directors from the 19 AYGS programs from across Virginia. After reviewing the language included in HB2305, a majority of the members of the committee would like to collectively endorse the framework presented in this bill. Each of the Directors of Governor's School programs across the state believe in the importance of diversity of our students bodies and equity of access to our programs. Our committee believes that local leaders are well-positioned to understand and act on the challenges facing specific communities, and this bill can facilitate successful collaboration of these leaders with state officials to support our mutual goals. Thank you for your time and consideration, Mark A. Levy Director, Roanoke Valley Governor's School Co-Chair, Academic-Year Governor's School Directors Committee

Last Name: Swanner Organization: TJ Alumni Action Group Locality: Roanoke

This public comment is submitted on behalf of the TJ Alumni Action Group. TJAAG represents alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who share a mission to enhance accessibility, inclusion, and innovation within STEM education. Over the last several months, TJAAG has been advocating for changes to the TJ admissions process to advance equity in race, gender, socioeconomic status, special education status, English Language Learner status, and improve representative diversity. TJAAG appreciates the changes recently passed by the Fairfax County School Board but there is more work to be done. TJAAG is committed to serving as a long-term partner and resource for the school board, this Assembly, and the Board of Education so that real progress can be achieved. TJAAG members are brought to this work from our lived experiences at TJ and beyond but we are committed to promoting equity in education across the Commonwealth. We hope that TJ can be a leader in equity and a model for other Governor’s schools within Virginia and public schools across the country. TJAAG supports House Bill 2305, which will charge the Board of Education with issuing guidance on the governance of academic year Governor's Schools, with a focus on increasing access to Governor's Schools for historically underserved students. The students who attend many of Virginia’s Governor’s schools do not reflect the demographics of the regions they serve and disproportionately exclude students who are Black, Latinx, and socioeconomically disadvantaged. 29% of Fairfax County students are on free and reduced-price lunch but only 2.4% of students at TJ are. These numbers reflect significant inequities in how schools like TJ reach out to prospective students, equip them to apply, accept, and enroll students. As public schools that receive state funding, Governor’s schools should be accessible to all students with an interest in the school’s special curriculum, whether or not those students have been identified by the state as “gifted.” TJAAG believes this legislation will help Virginia’s Governor’s Schools to become more inclusive, which will improve the experience and education of students who are historically underserved as well as the other students who attend these schools.

End of Comments