Having trouble reading this email? View it in your browser
Richmond Times-Dispatch - High Stakes Newsletter | RTD's Education focused news each week
Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Spread the word: Do you know others who want to stay informed about education in Virginia? They can subscribe to this weekly High Stakes newsletter at Richmond.com/Newsletters.

Where education issues stand in the General Assembly

We’re officially more than halfway through the 2020 General Assembly session.

Lawmakers faced a Crossover deadline of Tuesday, meaning bills not approved by the House or Senate were killed and approved bills were sent to the other chamber for consideration.

I figured it’s be a good time to catch up on where education legislation stands as we head into the second half. These are in no particular order.

Student disorderly conduct

The Senate and House passed bills prohibiting students from being guilty of disorderly conduct if the action was on school property.

Transgender students

Both chambers passed bills requiring the Virginia Department of Education to craft model policies as it relates to the treatment of transgender students.

Maternity leave for teachers

A House subcommittee killed a bill to require school districts to have a paid maternity leave policy for teachers who have been with a district for at least two years.

School facilities

A bill to create the Commission on School Construction and Modernization is poised to pass after clearing the Senate unanimously. Another bill to establish minimum standards for school facilities is also being voted upon favorably.

Lawmakers rejected taxing skill games in the name of funding grants for schools to fix their roofs, instead choosing to ban the games.

School facilities referendum

The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee killed a bill that called for a statewide referendum on whether the state should take out $3 billion in bonds in the name of improving school facilities.

Collective bargaining

The House passed a bill to allow public sector employees, including teachers, to collectively bargain. It faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Teacher planning time

The House and the Senate passed different versions of a bill to require school districts to increase the amount of planning time given to elementary school teachers from 30 minutes per school day to 45. Funding for the idea is in question.

Lockdown notices

A bill to require at least 24 hours' notice to parents before a lockdown drill is poised to pass after the House endorsed it unanimously.

Menstrual supplies

Schools would be required to have free menstrual supplies for students in bills approved by the House and Senate.

Recovery high school

Chesterfield County could get a recovery-based high school that would be open to students in central Virginia who are battling substance abuse. The idea has passed the House.

Appointed school board salaries

After the Hanover School Board asked for permission to give itself a raise, lawmakers passed a bill to eliminate the annual salary limits for appointed school board members.

College athlete pay

Both chambers killed bills allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is tasked with studying the idea.

Student loan servicers

The “Borrower’s Bill of Rights,” which requires student loan servicers to be regulated by the State Corporation Commission, passed the House and the Senate.

In-state tuition

After years of advocacy, the beneficiaries of a federal program known as DACA that shields the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation are set to be eligible for in-state tuition rates.


Is an issue you’re interested in not listed? Let me know. I’d be happy to update you. My email is jmattingly@timesdispatch.com and my cell phone is 315-778-6925.

Expect a breakdown of the budget proposals from the House and Senate money committees in next week’s newsletter.

(ABOVE PHOTO BY MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DISPATCH: Members of the CVHAA Patriots surprise teammate Hannah Coley (31), (2nd from left), as they celebrate her 1000 point milestone prior to their game against Miller School on Feb. 6, 2020 in Chesterfield.)

Making the rounds

  • A measure to have minimum standards for school buildings was among the dozens of bills approved before last week’s Crossover deadline.
  • While lawmakers are moving forward with letting teachers collectively bargain, they put the brakes on repealing Virginia’s right to work law.
  • Confederate school names aren’t the only Confederate iconography on the chopping block.
  • Many of you are paying close attention to the proposed changes to Virginia’s gun laws, some of which directly impact schools. Here’s what happened last week at Crossover.
  • Really scary and wild arrest at Lee-Davis High School in Hanover.
  • The Navy Hill project in Richmond is dead, Mark Robinson reports.
  • After laying off attendance officers, Richmond Public Schools is having attendance issues, Samuel Northrop writes.
  • Chris Suarez has the latest on Henrico redistricting.
  • Lily Betts has a good story on a girls basketball team made up of homeschooled students.
  • Sean Gorman has an update on Chesterfield's proposed schools budget.
  • The News & Advance has details on Lynchburg considering additional protections for LGBTQ students.
  • If you thought the decision in Franklin last month to ban the Confederate flag in the dress code put things to bed, you’re wrong, The Roanoke Times reports.
  • Friend-of-the-newsletter Megan Pauly at VPM has a story on legislation to address “lunch shaming.”
  • Turns out Stafford's superintendent isn't resigning, The Free Lance-Star tells us.
  • Matthew Fultz at WTVR has a story on black history education in Virginia.
  • Albemarle might merge its charter schools, according to Katherine Knott at The Daily Progress.
  • Amy Friedenberger at The Roanoke Times reports on small and rural schools encouraging lawmakers to increase education spending.
  • Related: The state found more money for its budget, Michael Martz tells us.
  • Hollins University has a new president, according to The Roanoke Times.

(ABOVE PHOTO BY DEAN HOFFMEYER/TIMES-DISPATCH: A resolution passed by the council requests that Mayor Levar Stoney submit a new plan that doesn’t have to center on a replacement for the Coliseum.)

In brief

Gov. Ralph Northam is turning to Virginia’s historically black colleges to recruit STEM teachers.

Northam last week touted his proposal to establish a program, formally called UTeach, at Virginia State University and Norfolk State University. The program helps recruit, train and retain science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

Forty-five colleges across the country use UTeach, according to Northam’s office, which said Virginia is the first state to propose public money to establish a UTeach program.

Northam has proposed a $1 million investment over the next two years to implement UTeach at Norfolk State and VSU.

“The demand for STEM education is growing rapidly, and we must ensure that students of color, students from lower-income school divisions, and students in other under-represented populations are not left behind,” Northam said. “UTeach will help address our existing teacher shortage and create a pool of diverse, talented STEM educators who are equipped to ensure Virginia students have the knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary to thrive in a fast changing, technologically-advanced, global society.”

While more than half of students at Virginia’s public K-12 schools are students of color, according to state data, only 18% of educators are teachers of color.

According to a news release, the state is expected to add roughly 150,000 new STEM jobs in the next five years.

Around the nation

  1. Politico took a look across the country on paying college athletes.
  2. The Indianapolis Star localized Trump’s plan to put vocational and technical education in every U.S. high school.
  3. This is a really good story from The Hechinger Report on Holmes County, Miss. Yes, the same Holmes County as Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education.

Study hall

  1. The Urban Institute used Virginia as a case study for a look at college graduation rates.
  2. A new report from The Hoover Education Success Initiative found that states “hinder CTE success with their credit award and funding policies."
  3. Bonus: More than four in five educators say in this new Harvard study that students have expressed fear about ICE. 

Because you made it this far

  • On this day in 1968, the National Basketball Hall of Fame opened in Springfield, Mass. In 1933, Newsweek was published for the first time.
  • Busy day for birthdays: Michael Jordan turns 57, while football legend Jim Brown celebrates his 84th birthday. Thinking out loud here, but I should also wish Ed Sheeran a happy 29th birthday.
  • Baseball pitcher Lefty Gomez died on this day in 1989.
  • It’s National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Fun fact: We tried starting a random act of kindness club in college but Syracuse denied our application. It’s also National Cabbage Day. If you are to celebrate the aforementioned kindness day, please don’t give someone cabbage.


Justin Mattingly

Your host, Justin Mattingly, covers P-12 and higher education for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He likes baseball (go Cardinals), a good book (especially biographies) and one stop light small towns. Drop him a line at jmattingly@timesdispatch.com.