House Education Committee Promptly Advances School Mask-Optional Legislation

RICHMOND, Virginia – The House Education Committee voted to advance school mask-optional language in a special meeting Friday; Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 739 was the only bill on the agenda.

As introduced in the Senate, Dunnavant’s original bill focused on in-person learning, but earlier this week Senator Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax City) moved to amend the bill to include the masking clause; that vote got broad support from both sides of the aisle. A later vote to pass the amended bill only had two Democrats supporting it, but that was enough to pass out of the Democrat-controlled Senate. On Wednesday, Delegate Amanda Batten (R-York) said that the sudden change surprised Republicans.

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Democratic Senators Petersen and Lewis Join Republicans to Pass School Mask Opt-Out Bill

The Virginia Senate passed a bill that will allow parents to opt their children out of wearing masks at school. Democratic Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) and Lynwood Lewis Jr. (D-Accomack) joined with Republicans to pass SB 739 after the Senate debated the bill for over an hour on Wednesday.

Bill sponsor Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), an OB/GYN, said during debate, “Two years into this pandemic, keeping unproven measures in place is no longer justifiable. We must evolve; science doesn’t stand still. We did masks and boxes and other things because we thought maybe they might help but they have not proven to do so. I will say further that you have before you a conflict between two constitutional priorities in Virginia. One is that school boards get to decide policy for their districts. But the other is that we are a parental rights state. You’re going to have to choose which authority, ceded by the Constitution, you’re going to stand by today.”

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Virginia General Assembly Continues to Debate Youngkin Critical Race Theory Ban

RICHMOND, Virginia – The General Assembly continues to debate Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order One banning Critical Race Theory and “inherently divisive concepts.” On Wednesday, legislators debated the policy in the House Education Committee, on the House floor, and on the Senate floor. The newly-Republican-controlled House of Delegates has been slow to hear bills in committee, which generated another House floor back-and-forth, but although key anti-CRT bills haven’t been heard in the Education Committee yet, delegates got a jump-start on debating the topic when interviewing Youngkin nominee for Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

Balow previously served as Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she supported anti-CRT legislation.

“I share Governor Youngkin’s priorities for education,” Balow said.

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Bipartisan Effort to Create an In-Person Learning Bill Slowly Moving Through the Virginia General Assembly

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s (R-Henrico) SB 1303 requiring schools to provide both in-person and virtual learning options is still moving through the House of Delegates, but slowly. Dunnavant’s bill earned bipartisan support in the Senate, thanks in part to support from Senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond.) But a House Education subcommittee initially introduced several amendments to the bill that would effectively leave the status quo intact, prompting opposition from House Republicans

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Freshmen GOP Legislators Ignore TSBA Scandal

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – When presented with an opportunity to hear a bill that would bring accountability and transparency to the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA), nine GOP legislators in the Tennessee House of Representatives– primarily freshmen – voted against it on Tuesday. This, despite the fact that the sponsor of…

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Tennessee Republican Party Issues Statewide Call For Support of Governor Lee’s Education Savings Account

As Governor Bill Lee’s legislation on Education Savings Accounts is set to be voted on by the full House Education Committee on Wednesday, March 27, the Tennessee Republican Party calls for support of his education plan. The Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) sent a personalized email Friday saying, “We need your…

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