South County Pyramid Art Show

A couple weeks ago, I stopped by the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center to view the new art exhibit. Wow! I never cease to be impressed by how talented our local students are. I hope you had an opportunity to visit!

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HB 1499 Passes into Law

I had a great time at the NOVA Breastfeeding Partners Happy Hour at Fiona’s Irish Pub last night! It was great to celebrate HB 1499 being passed into law with some of the women who helped get their legislators to pass this bill with bi-partisan unanimous support in both the House and Senate.
To refresh your memory, Virginia law stated that no person may bar another from any area open to the public based upon their race, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. This bill adds to that list by stating that a mother may breast-feed in any place where the mother is lawfully present. The purpose of this bill is pretty simple – to give mothers the ability to nourish their child wherever and whenever they may need to.

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Dave & Ben become “Tree Huggers”

Not too long ago, Ben and I took a trip to the Franklin Museum. Here’s a picture of us hugging trees with Lego Men.

Dad and Ben Tree Hugging with Lego Men

Conner behind “Conner’s Law” visits my office

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Conner’s Law was approved by the Governor on March 26, 2015 and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

This bill extends child support past the age of 18 when the child has an intellectual disability or is developmentally delayed.

You can view the entire bill here.

Which NOVA transportation projects will be funded?

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) held a packed public hearing in Fairfax on which projects will receive funding in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 from a pot of approximately $350 million.

The widening of Rolling Road in Springfield did not make the cut.

Watch this short clip from last night’s meeting.

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VDOT Shares News on Paving and Pothole Repairs

Within just a few weeks, VDOT crews have filled more than 10,000 potholes in NOVA. You can continue to report potholes online at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp  or to operators 24/7 at VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 800–FOR-ROAD (367-7623).

While they will continue this patching effort in full-force throughout the spring, there’s more good news!

Next month, the Virginia Department of Transportation kicks off $168 million worth of paving to further improve our roads! It is estimated that crews will place approximately one million tons of asphalt and four million linear feet of pavement.

This includes 31 lane miles of interstates, almost 50 lane miles of primary routes as well as extensive paving on secondary roads and neighborhood streets of almost 1,000 lane miles. You can check out the roads scheduled for paving statewide at www.virginiaroads.org.

It is important to note that none of this work could be possible without the generation of funds from the passage of the 2013 Transportation bill (HB2313).  I helped write this monumental transportation package and made sure there was a provision included which I call the “kill-switch.” This non-negotiable rules states that all money raised in NOVA must stay in NOVA. I call it the “Kill Switch” because it kills the revenues sources if any of the money is spent on anything other than transportation, or outside of NOVA.

Prior to this bill’s passage, there is not one penny of money to repave any roads in Springfield, Fairfax Station, Lorton, Mason Neck, South County, Mt. Vernon… in fact, there was no money to repave anywhere else in VA. There was not a penny for one stop light in all of Virginia. And by 2017, there was not going to be even one penny for constructing any road that was not partially federally funded.

Now, we can finally see some of the money that has been generated from this bill! It has taken some time to “fill up the bucket” again, but this paving kick-off is exactly what we need to get our Virginia roads back on track!

Delegate Albo announces his Campaign for Reelection

Springfield, VA– On March 18th, 2015, Delegate Dave Albo submitted the required documents to run in the Republican primary, confirming that he will seek reelection as Delegate of Virginia’s 42nd House District. Del. Albo has served in the House of Delegates since 1994 and currently serves as the Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee.

Del. Albo grew up in West Springfield and currently lives in the South County area with his wife Rita and their 9 yr. old son Ben. Del. Albo stated, “I decided to run again because I still enjoy helping people where I grew up and have lived for the past 45 years.”

During his time at the General Assembly, Del. Albo has addressed the concerns of his constituents. These concerns have ranged from fixing small everyday problems to solving the most vexing issues facing Virginia.

Some of Del. Albo’s significant achievements:

  • Removed illegal signs from roadways
  • Made restaurants smoke-free
  • Banned commercial trucks from parking on residential streets
  • Invented the financing system that built South County Secondary School
  • Created more in-state slots for his constituents by adding 1,700 in-state slots at Virginia’s top universities
  • As Chairman of the Courts of Justice, Del. Albo oversaw the development of every new criminal and civil law in the past decade
  • Authored of most of Virginia’s Anti-Gang Crime and Anti-DUI Laws
  • Co-authored of Virginia’s Internet “Spam” Crimes Act and the Uniform Computer Internet Transactions Act
  • Co-authored the 2013 Transportation Bill that delivers Billions of new revenue for roads and rail, under the non-negotiable rule that the money raised in Northern Virginia stays in NOVA and 100% has to be used for transportation projects

Del. Albo’s effectiveness continues to be amongst the top in the House. Just this past session, Del. Albo was the chief patron of legislation that protects people from internet-defamation, allows mothers to breast-feed in public areas, and decriminalizes the possession and use of Cannabidiol and THC-A oil to treat patients and children with intractable epilepsy.

Albo’s legislative work always emphasizes making our government live within its means, improving upon our transportation, reforming our education system, and protecting our families from violent criminals, child molesters, and drug dealers.

“One of my proudest achievements is being on the team that during the Great Recession cut government spending to 2007 levels and saved money for the Rainy Day Fund,” said Del. Albo.

Del. Albo looks to build on these accomplishments in 2016 and to continue to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Automatic 0-50% for all FCPS Students (Part II)

Check out this letter from Steven A. Lockard, Ph.D. Deputy Superintendent Fairfax County Public Schools. Not only is he proposing no zero grades (e.g. even if the kid never comes to class and never does any work he gets a 50% — see previous blog and Fox News Article), but no test is a final test.  He is proposing mandated test retakes. Young students in Fairfax County who are not yet self-motivated will never study for an exam because they could just retake it.  Now as an adult, I know what happens in the real world.  In my career as an attorney, if I show up unprepared, I can ruin my clients’ entire life.  There are no retakes in Court, and no retakes in life. This is the kind of Liberal education philosophy that will ruin our nationally recognized schools and could even ruin our economy.  What company wants to open up in an area where their future employees think they can receive a 50% for doing nothing and re-do a project after failing?

Here is the letter:

Dear Middle and High School Teachers,

I am reaching out to you, the members of the secondary teaching community, to share information about work that must begin in our division.  It is time to examine our current grading policies in an effort to ensure that we have consistent and equitable practices throughout our middle and high schools.

You may be wondering why we feel it is important to address this topic at this time.  Our middle schools and some of our high schools have moved towards implementing research-based grading policies that strive to ensure that grades accurately represent student achievement.  These policies include practices that encourage students to continue learning for demonstration of mastery. I commend these schools for their work in this area and recognize that steps forward in parts of the division create inequity when viewing the entire school system – that is something we can and must address.  In addition, engaging in this work will provide us the opportunity to ensure that we are all utilizing reasonable and consistent grading policies as we fully implement the SIS ParentView and open our gradebooks to parents. 

As a school system, it is imperative that all of our students are afforded sound and equitable practices and therefore the time is now to engage in these complex conversations and begin to consider change.  We are striving for transparency in the process and need as much perspective as possible. 

The work ahead requires our school system to consider long range and short term recommendations to the following grade-related concepts/topics:

  • Examine and make recommendations for eliminating or limiting the use of “zeros” in the 100 point marking system.
  • Examine and make recommendations for assessment retakes with associated guidelines.
  • Examine and make recommendations for separating work habits and achievement.
  • Examine and make recommendations regarding the “maximums” and “minimums” grades can carry; i.e., tests count for “X”% of grade, participation “X”%, etc.
  • Examine and make recommendations regarding the formulation of “final” course grades.
  • Make recommendations regarding minimum number of grades per grading period.  As it relates specifically to the electronic gradebook, examine and make recommendations regarding reasonable turnaround time(s) for grades to be posted to the electronic gradebook.

These are large and complex concepts so it is important that we take our time, get the necessary input and perspective and be careful and purposeful as we move forward.  While there is no set timeline for any changes, our hope is that over the remainder of this school year, through the feedback we gather, that we will be able to determine what, if any changes to grading policies could be considered for the 2015-16 school year and beyond.  It is critically important that teacher perspective and input are heard and valued as we plan this change.

I have convened a central oversight committee consisting of principals and other members of division leadership. In addition, we will be asking each middle and high school principal to select two teacher representatives to participate in focus groups that will meet over the next several months. We will also be asking our teacher associations to provide teacher representatives for the focus groups.  The role of these teachers will be to provide input to the committee as they consider and make any recommendations for short and long term change to the Leadership Team and School Board. 

 I encourage us all to educate ourselves on current research and engage in conversations with our colleagues as we pursue consistent and equable grading practices on behalf of our students. As always, I am incredibly appreciative of the work that you do each and every day for our students.

Sincerely,

Steve

Steven A. Lockard, Ph.D.

Deputy Superintendent

Fairfax County Public Schools

8115 Gatehouse Road

Falls Church, VA 22042

571-423-1020

Twitter: @SteveLockard1

This will create an environment where no child can possibly fail. But how will anyone know the opposite, when a student truly excels? How will colleges and universities know who to accept?

My prediction is that if this goes into practice, it won’t be there for long. Parents are not going to like no grades, hence no grade-point average.

Dave Albo

Automatic 0-50% for all FCPS Students (Part I)

Fairfax County Public Schools plans to give students an automatic 50% for doing nothing, rather than receiving a 0. If you think I am making this up, click on this story:

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4121287578001/should-schools-eliminate-zeroes-from-grading-policy/?#sp=show-clips

If this proposal in enacted, FCPS is will ruin what makes our schools so great. They will not give a single zero. Students will receive 50% for absolutely NOTHING.  I cannot help but think this is crazy. This sounds like an “Everyone Gets a Trophy” school system.

Everything I have in my life can be traced back to my parents or the great education I received at Rolling Valley Elementary, Washington Irving Middle School, and West Springfield High School.

Making a 50% the new floor instead of zero essentially cuts the requirements to achieve in half. This is insanity and if I can do anything to defeat this, I will!

2015 VA General Assembly Session Legal Related Bills

Here is a list of the legislation that passed this year and I expect that the Governor will sign into law (perhaps with clarifying amendments).   All become effective July 1, unless otherwise stated.  These are not all the laws passed. – just the ones I thought were interesting.  For the full web site of all laws, log onto: http://leg1.state.va.us.

Note:  Italics indicates new language we are adding to existing law, and strikethrough indicates language we are deleting from the existing law.

Civil Legislation
PI /Worker’s Comp /Med Mal. Law

  • HB 1350: Personal injury or wrongful death action; appointment of administrator.
  • HB 1476: Nurse practitioners; expert witness testimony, added to definition of health care provider.
  • HB 1486: Workers’ compensation; exclusivity of remedy.
  • HB 1610: Punitive or exemplary damages; consistency provided by changing references to damages.
  • HB 1775: Medical malpractice proceedings; health care providers; expert testimony.
  • HB 1819: Motor vehicle accidents; underinsured motorist claims, settlement procedures, subrogation.
  • HB 2016: Personal injury or wrongful death action; qualification of fiduciary.
  • SB 761: Personal injury and wrongful death actions; disclosure of address of alleged tortfeasor, etc.
  • SB 845: Volunteer first responders; immunity from civil liability when in route to an emergency.

 Family Law

  • HB 1397: Divorce; evidence by affidavit.
  • HB 1601: Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA); amends Act to modify current version.
  • HB 1951: Child support; proportionate share of health insurance premiums.
  • HB 1783: Child support; arrearage.
  • HB 2383: Child support; disabled child over the age of 18.

Estate Planning

  • HB 1657: Advance directives; directions about life-prolonging procedures during pregnancy.
  • HB 1798: Fiduciary; qualification without security, issuance of certificates of qualification.
  • SB 1064: Administration of estates; liability of heir or devisee for real estate conveyed.

Property

  • HB 1794: Foreclosure sale by trustee in execution of deed of trust; advertisement of time-share properties
  • HB 1905: Landlord and tenant law; retaliatory conduct by landlord.
  • HB 2080: Condominium Act and Property Owners’ Association Act; notice of sale under deed of trust.
  • SB 762: Tenancy by the entireties; property held in trust.

Construction

  • SB 891: Mechanics’ liens; subcontractor’s waiver of lien rights.

Civil Pro

  • HB 1610: Punitive or exemplary damages; consistency provided by changing references to damages.
  • HB 1635: Defamation; statue of limitations, actions involving Internet.
  • HB 1767: Unlawful detainer proceedings; satisfaction of judgments.
  • HB 1984: Judges; increases mandatory retirement age from 70 to 73.
  • HB 2048: General district court or circuit court; payment of funds.
  • HB 2172: Courts of record; submission of trial court record to appellate court.
  • HB 2355: Electronic communication service or remote computing service; obtaining records, real-time data
  • SB 1085: Value of property; enforcement of liens.

Criminal Legislation

  • HB 1287: Forfeiture of property used in connection with commission of crimes; conviction required.
  • HB 1308: Wire, electronic, or oral communications; civil action for unlawful interception, disclosure, etc.
  • HB 1353: Sex offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry; Supplement to Registry.
  • HB 1355: Photo monitoring; use of systems to enforce traffic light signals, appeals.
  • HB 1367: Temporary injunction; affidavit or verified pleading
  • HB 1500: Overdoses; definition, safe reporting by individual.
  • HB 1506: Deferred and installment payments; condition of all agreements for fines, costs, etc., posting.
  • HB 1611: Assault and battery; felony when committed against certain persons.
  • HB 1639: DUI; persons convicted under laws of other states or federal law.
  • HB 1764: Criminal history record information; dissemination, etc., civil actions.
  • HB 1927: Criminal cases; venue for prosecution.
  • HB 1928: DNA; analysis upon conviction of certain misdemeanors.
  • HB 1946: Administrative subpoenas; electronic communication services.
  • HB 1957: Juvenile records; DMV information released to certain persons.
  • HB 1964: Commercial sex trafficking; penalties.
  • HB 2040: Prostitution, pandering, etc.; violation of certain provisions is punishable.
  • HB 2043: Incarcerated persons; transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • HB 2120: Strangulation; alleged victim is a family or household member, admission to bail.
  • HB 2228: Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry; registration verification.
  • HB 2286: Firearms or ammunition; possession by convicted felons, restoration of rights, etc.
  • HB 2049: Preliminary hearing; certification of ancillary misdemeanor offenses.
  • SB 709: Computer and other crimes; venue for prosecution.
  • SB 720: Arrest photos on Internet; penalty.
  • SB 721: Seizure of property; receipt required.
  • SB 794: Judicial personnel; testimony of certain personnel.
  • SB 832: Blood samples; person authorized to take samples pursuant to a search warrant, immunity.
  • SB 855: Capital cases; determination of mental retardation.
  • SB 892: Overdoses; establishes an affirmative defense to prosecution of an individual, etc., safe reporting
  • SB 908: Police and court records; expungement, court may order without conducting a hearing
  • SB 915: Indecent liberties; venue.
  • SB 918: Sex offender registration; verification.
  • SB 919: Administrative subpoenas; electronic communication services, sealing of subpoena.
  • SB 961: Juvenile Justice, Department of; access to criminal history record information.
  • SB 1056: Child pornography and obscenity offenses; penalties.
  • SB 1290: Criminal cases; venue for prosecution.
  • SB 1307: Search warrants; collection of evidence from computers, computer networks, or other device.

Transportation Committee Bills

  • HB 1342: Driver of motor vehicle following too closely; includes non-motor vehicles.
  • SB 1411: Court costs; agreement with DMV authorizing collection of payment.