A key component of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s education reform package cleared significant legislative hurdles today and appears to be on its way to passage in the General Assembly.
The House of Delegates passed legislation (House Bill 2151) that reforms teacher evaluation and grievance procedures, while a nearly indentical bill (Senate Bill 1223) sailed through the Senate Education and Health Committee without a dissenting vote.
Opposition to the bills waned after McDonnell’s administration and the Virginia Education Association reached a compromise last week over proposed changes to the teacher dismissal process. The VEA strongly resisted the administration’s efforts last year to do away with a tenure-like system for teachers, a proposal that stalled in the state Senate.
This year’s compromise legislation allows school board to extend the probationary period for a new teacher from three to five years before the teacher would become eligible for an open-ended continuing contract. The legislation also requires annual performance evaluations and allows for a teacher to be dismissed after one bad evaluation.
McDonnell has asked lawmakers to fund the state’s share of a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but made the salary increase contingent on passage of the teacher contract reforms.
– Michael Sluss