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VA Sen. Majority Leader Scott Surovell Announces Creation of Senate Democratic Workgroup on School Mobile Phone Policy

"this issue requires a General Assembly input and a consensus solution"

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From VA Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell:

Majority Leader Surovell Announces Creation of Senate Democratic Workgroup on School Mobile Phone Policy

RICHMOND, VA—Yesterday, Governor Youngkin issued an executive order requiring the issuance of guidance for school divisions to adopt policies that establish “cell-phone free education” in our public schools.

The Governor’s intentions are appreciated, and student use of mobile phones in schools is a critical issue that must be addressed, but this issue requires a General Assembly input and a consensus solution. The Constitution of Virginia and Code of Virginia vests statewide education policy decisions with the Board of Education subject to restrictions in the Code of Virginia subject to the ultimate authority of the General Assembly and ultimately to be implemented by Virginia’s local school boards.

Therefore, today Majority Leader Surovell asked three Senate Democratic education policy leaders to develop legislation addressing mobile phone use in Virginia’s public schools. The members of this workgroup will be:

  • Senator Ghazala Hashmi, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and a former university and community college professor;
  • Senator Stella Pekarsky, a former teacher and school board member and Chair of the largest school system in the Commonwealth – the Fairfax County Public Schools; and
  • Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg, a full-time teacher in the Henrico County Public Schools.

We look forward to working with the Governor and his administration to craft consensus bipartisan mobile phone legislation.

Majority Leader Scott Surovell said: “I am confident that this workgroup—made up of senators who have dedicated their careers to education and improving the lives of Virginia’s students—will work to come up with a long-term policy on mobile phone use to help ensure that students remain focused on learning while in school and also preserve access to lines of communication with parents in the case of emergencies or other situations. We look forward to working with the Governor and House of Delegates to develop a consensus policy on guidance to our local school boards for mobile phone policy.”

“As a former educator myself, I fully understand how devices such as cell phones can be immensely distracting, even at the collegiate level. While technology can be an asset, it also interferes with focus,  engagement, and active learning. As members of the General Assembly, we are committed to developing effective solutions that address this pervasive issue, ensuring our students achieve and succeed,” said Senator Ghazala Hashmi.

“As a public school teacher, I see firsthand how cell phones disrupt the classroom and hinder learning. Our priority should be fostering an environment conducive to academic achievement and student growth, and I look forward to collaborating with the workgroup to develop a comprehensive legislative solution,” said Senator Schuyler VanValkenburg.

“As a former teacher, I know firsthand how cell phones can be a major distraction in the classroom. However, as a parent, I understand the need for children to have their phones for emergencies or when they provide accommodations for different learning needs. As the former School Board chair of the largest school division in the Commonwealth, I understand it is imperative that we strike the right balance through legislative action to enhance learning outcomes for all students. This is an issue I have been working on the last few months and am committed to tackling head-on to ensure our children’s success,” said Senator Stella Pekarsky.

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