A Roanoke Times editorial today pulled no punches in slamming Bob McDonnell for his multiple attacks on public education, saying, “The governor isn’t ignoring public school children’s education. He’s ruining it.”
The governor announced a scheme to steal tax dollars from public schools in order to prop up private schools. McDonnell’s scheme is similar to one in Arizona that is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is no given that even the conservative court will approve of spending tax dollars on private and religious schools…Should he prevail in giving corporations tax credits for paying private school tuition, he will place public schools and their children on a downward spiral.
Prior to his latest backhanded attack on public education, McDonnell previously proposed taking a portion of local sales taxes in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads away from social goods like education and public safety and giving it to transportation. Not just that, but the budget passed after McDonnell took office showed that support for public schools was low on his agenda.
McDonnell has devised a cheap way to give bonuses for teaching in struggling schools to a few teachers who meet criteria that haven’t even been established. Educators will compete for this small pool so that a few classrooms might benefit while the entire system continues to suffer.
Let’s review McDonnell’s public school lesson plan so far: substantially cut state aid so that massive teacher layoffs occur statewide; propose reducing aid this year by another $50 million; short pension funds one year in order to balance the budget, then turn around and require teachers to pay 5 percent of their salaries (which haven’t been raised in at least three years) into the fund; refuse to compete for substantial federal funding that would have helped to meet financial needs and raise standards; and expand charter schools. Still in question is whether he’ll reduce state aid by the amount of federal funds districts are receiving to compensate teachers.
I applaud this hard-hitting criticism of McDonnell’s disdain for public education.