It is our responsibility to assure a quality educational opportunity for all of Virginia’s children, regardless of their geography or family’s financial condition. Many have the financial means to choose where their children will attend school by purchasing their homes in the right neighborhood or their willingness to pay the necessary tuition.
Others find themselves trapped in schools that are not meeting their needs. Neither case is good for this Commonwealth. No one should have to move or pay tuition in order to find the kind of quality education we should be assuring. That is why I fight so hard for accountability and choice in education.
As we work to provide a quality education for every student, we also need to increase academic standards for students who want to go on to college. By providing higher academic standards and more opportunities for AP, IB and dual enrollment courses, college bound students are better prepared to attend the college or university of their choice.
But, not every student needs a four year college degree to be a success in life. For these students, we need to provide more meaningful opportunities for vocational preparation. Through certificate programs in the public schools and Associate Degrees at our community colleges, students can learn skills that enable them to secure a good job and support themselves and their families for a lifetime.
To succeed in our efforts to provide our children with the kind of quality educational opportunities they deserve, we have to attract and keep the best teachers. We cannot do so without, at least, raising our teacher pay to the national average.
We need to make sure that the teachers who are teaching our children are competent to teach them. If we raise teacher pay to the national average, we should also require competency testing for teachers and repeal teacher tenure laws. This will enable us to make certain that we have the best teachers in the classroom.
The very best of teachers find it difficult to do their jobs when distracted by disciplinary problems in the classroom. Children cannot be expected to learn in an environment where they are threatened, intimidated or afraid. So, we have to restore discipline to the classroom. If that requires more aggressive efforts to remove disruptive students, more alternative schools for students with recurrent disciplinary problems, or an increased presence of school resource officers, then, so be it.