Public school teachers would gradually transition from continuing status to more limited term contracts under legislation that has passed the House of Delegates. Bill supporters say that it is needed to improve education accountability.
The bill had required annual contracts for all teachers but was revised so that teachers with continuing contracts can retain them. But new teachers would be on probation for five years, then be eligible for three-year contracts. Principals and teachers would be evaluated each year. Delegate and teacher Kirk Cox said this is essential to improve education. He added that everyone has known bad teachers who weren’t fired, including this example.
“I taught next to one teacher who, seriously, would let the kids do whatever they wanted to do. He told them that if an administrator walked in, you turn to page 400 in your book and you pretend like you’re working,” said Cox.
But Delegate Kaye Kory said the bill removes decisions from locally elected officials. She criticized the timing of evaluations, then firing teachers in June—after they could have transferred in April.
“This is not the way to retain or attract good teachers. This is the way to drive them out of Virginia,” said Kory.
The bill, which is part of Governor McDonnell’s education agenda, now heads to the Senate.
–Anne Marie Morgan