Public Comments for 02/01/2021 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.

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.

HB2247 - Education, Board of; conditions and considerations on school division boundaries.
Last Name: Irby Locality: Charlottesville

HB2247 (Aird) would repeal restrictive language that hampers the ability of the Board of Education to draw school divisions to promote the realization of the Standards of Quality. These restrictions preserve the school boundary lines drawn after the 1974 Milliken v. Bradley decision, which forbade integration plans that crossed school division lines, meaning that Virginia’s school division boundaries have been largely unchanged since 1978. School division boundaries are not neutral borders — they reflect historic and political choices. They are also not immutable. Division boundaries have changed over time, and should continue to evolve alongside the makeup of Virginia’s student population. Removing restrictions on the Virginia Board of Education’s power to draw school divisions would give state officials another tool to preserve or enhance a school division’s ability to educate students in diverse environments and to ensure every student has a meaningful opportunity to learn. Students in Virginia have a constitutional right to be afforded access to a high quality education, and to provide that, the state should be actively working towards diverse and inclusive schools. School district borders and the attendance boundaries within them shape students’ access to quality education. Addressing the mechanisms that maintain segregated education in the state, like school division lines, are a crucial piece of the puzzle in the broader goal of mitigating unequal education opportunities and outcomes. Virginia’s student body is diverse. Our schools should look like their broader communities. Support HB2247 to give the Board of Education the ability to draw more equitable school division lines.

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.

HB2314 - Special education; Bd. of Education to amend certain regulation.
No Comments Available
HB2316 - Students w/ disabilities; Dept. of Education to update its special education and related services.
No Comments Available
End of Comments