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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More on Connaughton-Bolling VEA debate

Last week, Harry generated a number of insightful comments with this post on Sean Connaughton's endorsement by the Virginia Education Association. A number of people felt that Harry was being too hard on Mr. Connaughton.

In order to move the dialogue forward, we asked each Lt. Governor candidate to submit their answers to the VEA questionnaire. In our opinion, this is precisely the type of extended analysis facilitated by blogging.

Here is the Bolling campaign's answer.
While Senator Bolling is a strong supporter of public education and public school teachers, he disagreed with a number of the questions on the survey and decided not to respond.
We have not yet heard from the Connaughton campaign, but are obviously interested in hearing his answers to the questionnaire.

Here are the questions:
  1. Do you oppose the use of public money for private schools (vouchers and tuition tax credits or other methods)?
  2. Will you oppose efforts to eliminate or weaken continuing contract?
  3. Will you oppose efforts to offer a Defined Contribution Option as a substitute for the current Defined Benefit Virginia Retirement Systems plan?
  4. Will you support legislation establishing paying Virginia's teachers at a rate at or above the national average teachers' salary as the policy of the commonwealth, and will you support efforts to move Virginia's average teacher salary to the national average within the next four years by providing sufficient funds and appropriate budget language?
  5. Will you support the provision of a Retiree Health Care Credit equal to that offered for state employees to school board personnel including educational support personnel?
  6. Will you support the utilization of the W2 Definition of Salary for the determination of a Virginia Retirement System benefits?
  7. Do you support revision of the Child Protective Services section of the Code of Virginia to limit the complaints against school employees to cases of "gross negligence or willful misconduct" and reduce the frequency of job-threatening but frivolous complaints?
  8. The current budget is the first to deduct federal funding from the basic aid sent to localities. Do you support the full restoration of Federal Deduct?
  9. Will you support increasing the state share of the per pupil allocation for health insurance costs of local school board employees?
  10. Will you support increasing the Virginia Retirement System's multiplier from 1.70% to 2.00%?
  11. Will you support the right of Virginia Education Association members to have dues collected through voluntary payroll deduction?
  12. Will you support legislation to require contracts between local school boards and education support professionals?
  13. Will you support funding of the four unfunded 2004 Standards of Quality revisions (Principals, Assistant Principals, Speech Pathologists, and Reading Specialists)?
At first glance, I'm a little surprised at the questions.

Nine of the thirteen (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12) deal exclusively with salary, union or benefit issues.

Two questions (8 and 13) deal with school funding in a more general sense.

Of the other two, question 1 on school vouchers puts the VEA at odds with the patron issue of many private and home-schoolers.

There's also not anything about student achievement, increased college enrollment, etc. I understand that the VEA opposes such metrics, but measurable standards could go a long way to making their platform more palatable.

For further explanation of the questions, visit VEA's legislative agenda.


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    How do you "disagree with a question"?

    6:50 PM

    Blogger Addison said...

    I took it to mean "disagreed with the premise of the question."

    9:26 PM

    Anonymous Mattaponi said...

    Question 7 seems to be the only one that has an embedded premise (that there are frivolous complaints being filed against teachers. The others seem structured to admit of a yes or no answer.

    11:11 PM

    Blogger Addison said...

    That's true. But the questions, when compared to VEA's legislative agenda, indicate that VEA's preferred answer is "Yes" to all 13 questions.

    11:38 PM

    Anonymous Cold Harbor said...

    Then, as Nancy Reaga used to say, "just say No."

    6:22 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent proposal, cold harbor.

    And I agree with Addison's contention that this is the type of analysis facilitated by blogs.

    John Behan

    8:46 PM

    Anonymous Pastor John said...

    the vea is a bunch of commie liberal dock monkey unionistas. someone needs to ship the whole bunch of them back to cuba so they can be with fidel and elian.

    9:23 PM

    Anonymous Rick Smith said...

    I find it hard to believe that this issue will gain any real traction in this campaign. As someone with several children in PWC schools, I can tell you that our students and teachers have a true friend in Sean Connaughton. Having said that, as someone who knows Sean personally, I can also assure you that he is no friend to the VEA and its agenda. I haven't seen his answers to the questionnaire, nor do I expect to. I do know that the process typcially involves more than some simple yes or no questions. Candidates are usually asked to expand on many of these questions and participate in interviews. The difference here is that Connaughton chose to sit down with them and listen to what they had to say. I know for a fact that he doesn't agree with them on their legislative issues. But, as they share a common goal in providing our children with quality education (a goal I think we can all agree is pretty important), he agreed to hear them out. This is what real leaders do. Real leaders don't pick and choose who they will discuss issues with or shy away from conflict. The fact that the Bolling camp continues to bring this up is just another example of how much trouble his campaign is in.

    8:37 AM

    Blogger Addison said...


    You raise good points. So why not show the answers? If, as you claim, Sean rejects the VEA's liberal agenda items, and sought common ground, then that ought to be reflected in his answers.

    If nothing less, releasing the VEA questionaire would cut of Sen. Bolling's ability to paint the endorsement as something that that you claim it is not.

    9:14 AM

    Blogger James Young said...

    There are two (maybe three, if you include the first about preserving the government school monopoly) key questions:

    11. Will you support the right of Virginia Education Association members to have dues collected through voluntary payroll deduction?

    12. Will you support legislation to require contracts between local school boards and education support professionals?

    Allow me to rephrase them more honestly:

    11. Will you enlist the government in helping our private organization to collect dues from our members?

    12. Will you support repeal of Virginia's ban on public employee monopoly bargaining, and give our labor union a preferred seat at the table for the allocation fo scarce public resources?

    As for most of the other questions, what is surprising is that anyone is surprised that this labor union (misnomered as an "education association") has much interest in the quality of education. I won't begrudge them that interest; after all, that's what labor unions do and are supposed to do. I will, however, begrudge anyone who tries to sell their agenda as being for "education," and question their knowledge of public affairs.

    As for "rick smith's" suggestion that "they share a common goal in providing our children with quality education (a goal I think we can all agree is pretty important)," this just demonstrates the point. That Chairman Sean "agreed to hear them out" based upon this premise indicates that he, too, fails to demonstrate even a fundamental working knowledge of public affairs.

    That's why Republican voters in the Commonwealth should deny him the opportunity to demonstrate it on a larger stage.

    10:35 AM


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