Decision harms education

Published 7:24 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nearly every elected official at the state or national level talks of their plans to be a strong supporter of education, teachers and our children.

Such was the case with our newly elected governor Bob McDonnell.

In his first opportunity to step up for education, in his first opportunity to become the education governor he pitched himself as, he failed. He fell short — and as a result, more than 90 school systems, including those in Hampton Roads, will lose millions.

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In a time when school systems are already struggling to improve education, enhance programs and better prepare our children with existing funding, McDonnell’s decision Monday may ultimately prove devastating.

By making adjustments to the index that sets the ratio of funding from the state to school systems, McDonnell has effectively ripped millions of dollars from over 90 school systems in the state who could not afford such a move.

The only systems who will benefit from the decision are those in Northern Virginia who led an effort to lobby for such a change. And, with this area’s increasing political influence in Richmond, it was not much of a surprise that McDonnell caved.

Now, the challenge is before our local delegates and senators who have been asked to fight against this move.

A letter from 14 area school superintendents challenged our local delegations “to raise your voices on behalf of the children of the 93 school districts that would lose significant funding if this recommendation were to become a reality.”

During the recent gubernatorial campaign, then-candidate McDonnell said his plan “focuses on putting more education dollars directly into the classroom.”

It now seems that McDonnell’s actual decisions speak much louder than his campaign talking points ever did. Unfortunately, they also carry much more weight and — in this case — inflict much more damage.

We now stand by our superintendents and ask the same of our delegations in Richmond. Please work to keep the freeze on index changes or, as the superintendents wrote, “at the very least forge a compromise that will mitigate its powerfully negative effects.”