Category Archives: Schools

Virginia’s CNBC Ranking

Virginia is on the rise again. A recent ranking by CNBC shows that Virginia is now 7th on the list of best states to do business in which is a large improvement compared to last year’s 13th place ranking. After having been ranked #1 in 2007, 2009, and 2011, Virginia has dropped in the ratings for the past few years, but the recent increase shows the resilience of our economy and government. CNBC’s rankings were based off of 10 categories which are cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. I am proud to say that Virginia ranked 2nd in workforce quality and was in the top 10 for workforce and business friendliness.

In the past 3 years, unemployment rates have dropped from 5.4% to 3.8% and unemployment claims have dropped to a 44-year low. In addition to lowered unemployment, there has been a large influx of capital investment, job openings, and people in the workforce. To be more specific, Virginia has experience a record breaking $16.16 billion in capital investment while adding over 187,500 new jobs. Now that Virginia is back in the top 10, it will likely continue to grow as our high ranking will be very appealing to companies who are looking to expand or relocate.

Despite all of the improvements we have made there are still areas which we can improve upon. Despite being highly ranked in workforce quality and business friendliness, Virginia received a poor ranking, 35th in the nation, for cost of doing business, which might make it difficult to establish new businesses. In addition to the CNBC ranking, over 5,000 businesses were surveyed, and their biggest issues were workforce training, tax reform, and regional cooperation in economic development. It’s obvious that Virginia is moving in the right direction with lowered unemployment and increased capital investment, but now we need to focus on making our state more business friendly in order to continue rising and regain our #1 ranking.

2017 Crossover Update

                             ENCOURAGING JOB GROWTH                                 

Virginia is still a leading job creator in the United States, and ranks in the top 10 in the country for:

  • “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine
  • “Best States to Make a Living” by Business Insider and Money-Rates.com
  • “The Top States for Higher Education” by com
  • “The K-12 Achievement Index” by Educational Week and Quality Counts
  • “NAEP Combined Proficiency Rate: 4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math” by Educational Week and Quality Counts

More importantly, we have lowered our unemployment rate by 2.5% between 2012 (6.9%) and 2017 (4.4%) and have the 8th lowest combined state and local tax burden in the country!

However, things are not all roses and puppy dogs.  For decades, the economy in Northern Virginia has benefited from Federal Government spending, but with the recent cuts and the sequestration, our once invincible economy is starting to stammer.  Currently, Fairfax County has a 0% growth rate.  This is a big problem.  In order to create more jobs and increase economic growth, we need to reduce our dependency on the Federal Government and diversify our NOVA economy.  For this reason, I have invested a great deal of time in helping Fairfax INOVA start their Translational Medicine Institute right here in Fairfax County.  The institute combines gene mapping, massive computing power, and clinical trials to develop medications based on a person’s individual DNA code.  Personalized medicine could be an economic game changer.  I even took an online class to further my knowledge on genetics and DNA!  By making our County a national leader in the field of genetics, I hope to make Fairfax County the world’s center for personalized medicine, and therefore create an economic engine in NOVA for years to come.

DELEGATE ALBO’S BILLS

Getting Our Kids into VA Universities:

HB 1410 – Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. (Albo Chief Patron) For years, I have been working with a bipartisan group of Delegates to make colleges more affordable and accessible to our Virginia students.  My HB 1410 does three things.  First, it creates a study so that colleges can eventually stop using tuition from one Virginia student to provide financial aid for another student.  This practice is unfair to students working a job after classes to pay their way through school, and to parents who are working hard to provide for their kids.  Their hard earned money should be used solely for their education or their child’s education.  Second, it creates an incentive for colleges to have at least 70% in-state student enrollment rates, and requires any tuition earned from out-of-state students over the 30% limit be used to lower in-state tuition.  Lastly, it mandates the Board of Visitors to complete training to remind them that their duty is primarily to the people of Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Our Environment:

HB 1423 – Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would direct the DEQ to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that gets into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine how the owner can bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  My idea was incorporated into Delegate Lingamfelter’s HB 2383.

Albo voted “YES”. HB 2383 passed the House.

Helping Families Going Through Divorces:

HB 1456 – Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. (Albo Chief Patron) I have seen many divorce cases argued in court, and know that it must be a stressful time for parents and children.  This bill provides that the court, in its discretion and in referring to a parent, may use the phrase “parenting time” as synonymous with the term “visitation” in a custody or visitation order.  The option to use the term “parenting time” would ensure that no one parent is made to feel less important than another during this already difficult time.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Developing Our Area’s Culture and Arts:

HB 1486 – Arts and cultural districts. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would allow two or more localities to join together to create an arts and cultural district.  We are trying to combine the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center with the events and art in Occoquan with this legislation.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Your Purchases:

HB 1825 – Rights to resell tickets; civil penalty. (Albo Chief Patron) As a citizen legislator, I bring my own experiences with me to the House of Delegates.  This past year, I splurged on two tickets to see Iron Maiden, only to learn that they conflicted with my family’s vacation.  Because of the restrictions on ticket resale imposed by Ticketmaster, I couldn’t resell the tickets, had to miss the show, and lost my money.  This bill would end those restrictions.  Under HB 1825, any ticket vendor would be prohibited from imposing any rules that would create a substantial obstacle to the ticket holder’s resale of the ticket.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

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OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

EDUCATION

Making Sure Virginians are Running our Virginia Schools:
HB 1402 –  Higher educational institutions, public; certain positions require residency of the Commonwealth.
This bill would require each chairman, vice-chairman, rector, and vice-rector of public Virginia colleges to be a Virginia resident.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Helping Our Students Grow in the Computer Science Field:

HB 1663 – Computer Science for All Virginia Students Advisory Committee, etc.; established. Through the establishment of a public-private partnership, this bill encourages and helps fund computer science training and professional development for public school teachers throughout Virginia.  HB 1663 works to improve computer literacy for children and adults in public schools across the Commonwealth.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Parents Informed About Their Kids’ Education:

HB 2191 – School boards; procedures; sexually explicit instructional materials or related academic activities. (Albo Chief Co-Patron) I co-authored this bill, because parents should have all the information available when it comes to their kids’ education.  This bill would require schools to notify parents when students are required to read sexually explicit material and to offer an alternative reading if it is requested.  The bill would not ban any books from schools, it would simply notify parents if a reading has sexually explicit content.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

VA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

My aforementioned HB 1410 is intended to increase the number of in-state slots, but some schools are already moving in the right direction!  Virginia Tech added 507 in-state slots for the 2016-2017 school year.  The University of Virginia added 843 in-state slots in the last five years, increasing its percentage of in-state students from 67.2% to 69%.  James Madison University increased its percentage of in-state students from 72.2% in 2012 to 74.5% this year.  Some schools have been lacking, though, as William and Mary only added 103 in-state slots over the last five years.  I am glad to see that most of our universities are supporting our Virginia students, but there is more work to be done!

K-12 EDUCATION

Funding for our Schools:

The House proposed budget for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 delivers $21,871,425 MORE to Fairfax County Public Schools.  That is an increase of over $115 per student.  Over the past five years we have delivered $353/student/year more to our Fairfax County Public Schools!

HEALTHCARE

Providing Women’s Healthcare:

HB 2267 – Health benefit plans; coverage for hormonal contraceptives. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill states that health plans that provide hormonal contraceptives must provide a 12-month supply to the patient.  It does not mandate that it all be provided at once, but that women have annual access to this healthcare.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Monitoring Opioid Prescriptions:

HB 1885 – Prescription of opioids; limits. This is one of the bills put forward to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia.  The epidemic is partly enabled by the difficulty in tracking and monitoring prescriptions.  This bill would require a prescriber registered with the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to request information about a patient from the PMP before prescribing them any opioids.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND TRANSPORTATION

Enforcing Federal Immigration Law:

HB 1468 – Compliance with detainers; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This bill would prohibit a jail or law enforcement agency from releasing a person who is incarcerated and is an illegal alien when the jail has already received a lawful detainer order from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This legislation would simply ensure that our state agencies comply with existing federal law.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Prosecuting Drunk Drivers:

HB 2327 – DUI; implied consent; refusal of blood or breath tests. This bill was offered in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled that criminal penalties for refusing a blood alcohol content test for a DUI was unconstitutional.  HB 2327 changes the penalties associated with refusal for repeat DUI offenders to make it constitutional.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Virginians from Fraud:

HB 2417 – Department of Medical Assistance Services; fraud prevention; prepayment analytics. (Albo Co-Patron) HB 2417 creates a computer monitoring system aimed at reducing fraud with payments made through the state program for medical assistance.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Combatting Terrorism in Virginia:

HB 2410 – Providing support to terrorist organizations; penalty. Our code previously lacked provisions that specifically punished those associated with terrorism when the actual act of terror occurred outside of Virginia.  Under this bill, any person who knowingly aids a terrorist organization will be guilty of a Class 3 felony.  If the assistance results in someone’s death, that charge is increased to a Class 2 felony.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Our Kids Safe from Sex Offenders:

HB 1485 – Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. (Albo Co-Patron) In order to protect our children, this bill prohibits those who have been convicted of sex offenses in other states or foreign countries from residing or being in places where children frequent.  The bill applies to anyone who has been convicted of an offense that is similar to the any of the offenses qualified as sex offenses in Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

LOCAL NEWS

Commemorating Women’s Right to Vote:

HB 2348 – Women’s Right to Vote, Commission for the Commemoration of the Centennial of; established. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill creates a commission to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.  2017 marks 100 years since the turning point of the Suffrage Movement.  The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be built in Occoquan Regional Park, where the Occoquan Workhouse was located.  Scores of suffragists were unjustly imprisoned in the Workhouse.  The national memorial will educate, inspire, and give people the opportunity to reflect.  My grandmother was a suffragette, and I remember her telling me stories about it when I was a kid.  This bill will help to commemorate her and all the women who fought for their right to vote.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

WSHS Renovation Begins:

West Springfield High School is in the midst of a renovation.  Drive by when you get a chance to see the progress on the building!

                                               ________________________________

I know this was a lot of information, but we have accomplished a lot so far in Richmond.  Please contact me by email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov, or by phone at (703) 451-3555 with any questions or concerns.  You can also view updates on my blog, www.delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com.  After all, my job is not to do what I want to do, but rather, to do what you want!

The 2017 Proposed Budget

The Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a proposed two-year state budget this Thursday, February 9. The budget is fiscally conservative, responsible, and balanced. General spending, adjusted for inflation and population, has decreased by 5% over the past 10 years. The budget prioritizes public safety, primary education, economic development, combating domestic violence, healthcare, and wage increases for state employees. In keeping with the conservative principles from the House of Delegates, the Budget does not include any fee or tax increases. The budget manages to promote funding for core government programs while expanding transparency for government’s economic development.

Education

The Budget invests in primary and second education, funneling nearly $15 million to education for grades K-12. It also includes funding to make college more affordable for all Virginians, and prioritizes in-state students.

Public Safety

$1.5 million is allocated to programs that support victims of Domestic Violence, including preventative measures. It also raises the salaries of the Virginia State Police and provides adjustments for the salaries of Capitol Police and in sheriff’s offices and regional jails.

Healthcare

Obama’s Medicaid expansion is not included in the proposed budget. Instead, the House decided to use $28.5 million to construct a better safety net, which includes funds for programs that assist, among others, substance abusers and the mentally ill.

Supporting State Employees

            The House is proud to support a 3% pay raise for state employees in the proposed budget, which is twice that which Governor McAuliffe proposed. It also proportions funds to assist in a statewide study on pension reform and retirement plans.

Transportation

            Transportation is funded by money directed specifically to transportation (e.g. gas tax, car titling tax, etc). You can look on my website at http://www.davealbo.org/ to see the projects that we are currently working on.

Overall, myself and the House of Delegates has the utmost confidence that this budget will responsibly increase spending and accountability in the most important areas of our government without taking more from the taxpayers.

Second Week of 2017 Session

We hung artwork from elementary schools in my district around the office this week. Thank you to the art students that created these beautiful pieces for us! We are excited to have some color on our white walls!

Legislative Updates

All fifteen of my bills have been assigned to a committee and sub-committee, and are being discussed there. You can see the committees that they have been referred to, and follow the status of all of my bills by clicking here.

This week, my bills HB 1456, HB 1486 and HB 1526, passed in their respective subcommittees. The summaries of the bills as introduced are as follows:

HB 1456: Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. Provides that at the request of a parent to such case or proceeding, the court shall use the phrase “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation.” The bill does not apply to any case or proceeding where a court has found a history of family abuse or sexual abuse or has otherwise found that a child subject to the case or proceeding is an abused or neglected child.

HB 1486: Arts and cultural districts. Provides that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

HB 1526: Alcoholic beverage control; mixed beverage performing arts facility license. Revises the annual mixed beverage performing arts facility license to allow any person operating any performing arts facility to sell, on the dates of performances and one hour prior to any such performance and one hour after the conclusion of any performance, alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption in areas upon the licensed premises approved by the Board.

The Richmond Times Dispatch wrote an article about my bill, HB 1825. The bill protects consumers’ rights by making it illegal for companies issuing tickets to inhibit purchasers from reselling tickets. You can read the Richmond Times Dispatch article here, and the full text of the bill here.

Things will get crazy next week, as all the bills have to be voted on by February 4th.

UVA to increase in-state slots

On Tuesday, the University of Virginia announced two of their new efforts to make the school more accessible for Virginia residents.

The first of their efforts was the authorization of the “Cornerstone Grant,” which expands UVA’s financial aid program for qualifying, full time Virginia students from middle income families.

Starting this fall, first and second-year Virginians from families earning less than $125,000 (who do not receive grants or scholarships from other sources) will be eligible to receive a $2,000 Cornerstone Grant. Qualifying third-year students will be eligible to receive a $1,000 grant.

The board also announced that they would be increasing enrollment for Virginians, and that half of the 100 new slots would go to first-year students. The remaining half of the slots will go to a variety of students, including transfers, distance learners and first-year students starting in the spring or summer.

While UVA still has too many out of state students, I am pleased that they have responded to the pressure we have been putting on them and continue to add more in-state slots. The recently added 100 in-state slots will make total of approximately 1,000 new in-state slots over the past 5 years.

The 2016-2017 incoming class at UVA was made up of 66.9 percent of in-state students and 33.1 percent of out-of-state students. This announcement, which will make attendance at UVA more financially attainable and will increase the number of slots for Virginians, is a step in the right direction. You can read the full text of the news release here.

This session, I am the chief patron of HB 1410, which would require that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled must be Virginia residents. The full text of the bill is as follows:

HB 1410: Certain educational institutions; designation of governing boards; financial assistance; enrollment. Renames as boards of trustees the boards of visitors of certain educational institutions in the Commonwealth, including baccalaureate public institutions of higher education. The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from using (i) tuition revenue from any Virginia student to provide financial assistance to any Virginia student or non-Virginia student and (ii) more than five percent of tuition revenue from non-Virginia students to provide financial assistance to non-Virginia students. The bill also requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education, except the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University, and Virginia State University, to ensure that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at the institution have established domicile in the Commonwealth. The bill requires the governing boards of public institutions that do not meet such 75 percent threshold to submit to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia a plan to incrementally increase enrolled undergraduate Virginia students each academic year to ensure compliance no later than the 2020-2021 academic year.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and is currently being discussed in the Higher Education subcommittee. If you would like to track the progress of the bill, just click on the “Track Legislation” link and then type the bill number (HB1410).

Student Debt in Virginia

There’s no question that student debt affects a significant number of Virginians each year. Beyond increasing an individual’s financial burden, student debt negatively impacts the Virginia economy. According to studies conducted in the past three years, people with student debt are less likely to buy a home, start a new business, or save for retirement.

Below are some graphics that depict some of the impact of student debt, as well as information on the tuition increases in recent years. Virginia universities must work to decrease the amount of debt for their graduates. I’m working hard to introduce and sponsor bills that would alleviate student debt by reducing tuition for Virginia students.

student-debt-1student-debt-2student-debt-3student-debt-4

2016 Public School Quality Report

Dear friends,

I would like to make you aware of a new tool provided by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) that provides useful information regarding the status of public schools and local school divisions throughout the Commonwealth. You can find the detailed “School Quality Profiles” that VDOE provides here.

These profiles cover many topics, such as:
• Student achievement
• College and career readiness
• Program completion
• School safety
• Teacher quality

A lot of this information can also be found in the Virginia Board of Education’s recently released 2016 annual report. This report is released every year to highlight what our schools are doing well and to outline ways in which public K-12 education can be improved, and I want to share some things from the report that stood out to me.

First, this year’s report reaffirms what many of us already know – that Virginia has some of the best public K-12 schools in the country! Our children are scoring above the national average on tests like the SAT and ACT, and over ninety percent are graduating from high school on time. However, the Board thinks improvements can be made to better prepare students for life after high school. After speaking with higher education institutions, businesses, and the military, the Board believes students will benefit from having more technical skills training and other career exploration opportunities incorporated into the K-12 curriculum.

While it’s clear that our students are performing well on tests and receiving a quality education, the report indicates that there are currently not enough teachers in Virginia, particularly for subjects and areas like special education, math, and social studies. If I recall correctly, in 2015 Fairfax County had over fifty teacher vacancies in special education alone. To address this issue, the Board is looking into reforming Virginia’s licensing process with the hope of recruiting more teachers, and is looking into providing more employee benefits to help keep the teachers we have so they don’t move to other school systems.

These are some of the key points from this year’s report that I thought were important to share with you. You can click here for the full report. As a parent, I also encourage you to visit SchoolQuality.Virginia.Gov if you have children who are attending public schools, or are looking for more information on public schools and school divisions.

LCAC Back to School Drive

Last week my staff and I dropped off backpacks and school supplies for the Lorton Community Action Center. Every year, before the school year starts, LCAC hosts a “Back to School” drive that collects backpacks and supplies to donate to students in need.  You can check out the backpack drive and other charity opportunities at: http://www.lortonaction.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=145&Itemid=152

West Springfield High School Renovation as Told by a Spartan

“I am a rising senior at West Springfield High School. I have a firsthand look of West Springfield and have been around the school before the renovation, and will have one year in school during the renovation. Being a resident of the area and having many siblings that have attended West Springfield, I have seen the school age, change, and become (in my opinion) more run down every year. A more detailed idea about the current state of the school would be that: in the school we have toilets that don’t always work or flush, moldy floor tiles that are rotting away, the air conditioning doesn’t always work or when it does it isn’t the desired temperature, many stairwells look rusted and have piles of garbage stuffed into the sides of the stair, a good amount of ceiling tiles had water damage on them from a leak in the pipes, many of the lockers were stuck closed and needed extra force to open them, the majority of the windows were stuck or needed a great force to wedge them open or close them, the turf field needed to be re-done because there was more turf than fake grass, and the overall structure and appearance of the school is lacking most times. That is why I am extremely excited that the school is in the process of being renovated.

WSHS will soon turn the tender age of 50 after being established in 1966. West Springfield was and will continue to be a diverse and happy community of individuals, but now it will actually have a real third floor (we always teased the freshmen that there was a secret pool on the third floor). The construction of the school will take approximately 3 years total ending in the year 2020. The planning begun a few years ago and was carefully planned out to the last detail, along with budgeting. The school wasn’t supposed to be renovated for a few more years but thanks to the help of our government officials, like Supervisor Pat Herrity and Dave Albo who brought the problem of our blighted school to light, our school board members who found the money to make it happen, and the taxpayers who are paying for it, the renovation process was moved forward, approved, and now is starting earlier than previously decided.

Renovations started by placing a trailer park outside of the school in the old practice field so the school could begin renovating and placement of a third floor onto the original structure. Due to the renovations, some sacrifices needed to be made. They had to remove a good number of trees that have been on the school’s land for a number of years, and there will be no parking lot for senior use next year. Sacrificing the trees, classrooms for trailers, and parking lot are all necessary actions that needed to be taken in order to give our school a proper makeover.

The main problems in the school that the renovations will be addressing are the fields, the structure of the building, the classrooms, the ceilings, floors, lockers, gyms, auditorium, parking lot, and an overall beautification of the school itself. An overview of what will happen to each aspect of the school is as follows. The field will get new turf, the score board will be replaced, there will be a new press box, they will build a third floor onto the school building and renovate the existing ones, expand the gyms, create equal sized lockers all around the school, install new floors and ceiling tiles, refurnish the classrooms, and, most importantly, they will install manual AC units and re-do the bathrooms (most of which are broken or are too unpleasant to go near). Pictures of the current state of WSHS are below.

Although it is great that the school is finally being renovated, and the protective coat of West Springfield filth will be lifted and replaced with a clean coat of paint, the spirit and great community of the school will always stay intact.”

In-State Slots at William & Mary

The following is an article published in the Richmond Times Dispatch regarding my and other General Assembly Members’ work to increase the number of spots in our state schools for our Virginia students. This article provides a good example of why I have been so mad about the College of William and Mary not spending their money on increasing the number of new in-state slots.

Richmond Times Dispatch

Virginia lawmakers added more than $300 million to higher-ed funding this year with the expectation that the state’s colleges and universities would limit tuition hikes to 3 percent. Most did. Two (VMI and Richard Bland) raised tuition by slightly more. Then there’s William & Mary, which will jack up tuition and fees by 12 percent. That’s a slap in the face to state lawmakers and a kick in the teeth to Virginia families.

The school hastens to point out that the tuition hikes will apply only to future classes. The “William & Mary Promise” guarantees that students will pay one rate throughout their undergraduate education, and that is commendable. So is the school’s extensive system of financial aid, which helps ease the sticker shock for families of modest means. But neither of those palliatives is a good substitute for lower tuition across the board.

Granted, it’s worth noting that state support for higher education plunged after the Great Recession and still has not fully recovered. Jim Bacon, the former editor of Virginia Business who blogs at Bacon’s Rebellion, estimates that W&M has lost out on $20 million over the past 16 years. Fair point. On the other hand, $1 million and change per year is not a huge hit for a school whose budget is now north of $190 million.

Virginia residents also ought to keep in mind the different trajectories of state support and the price of admission. While state support has slipped slightly, tuition and fees have skyrocketed. Consider:

For 1999-2000, tuition and mandatory fees at William & Mary totaled $2,352 . If you adjust for inflation, that would be $3,268 today. Yet this year, W&M’s tuition and mandatory fees total $19,372 – a nearly 500 percent increase. There are words to describe that kind of highway robbery, but none of them can be printed in a family newspaper.

Members of the House of Delegates such as Chris Jones, chairman of the Finance Committee, are livid. They should be. But state Sen. Tommy Norment has rushed to the school’s defense, objecting to “bullying” by the House over “some artificial cap.” W&M lies within Norment’s district, so it’s natural that he would stick up for it. He might even feel duty-bound to. Virginians, however, should not mistake his vigorous constituent representation for a legitimate policy stance. It’s nothing but politics, pure and simple.

While W&M – the initials could stand for “Woeful & Miserable tuition hikes” – might be an outlier this year, it has plenty of company. Figures from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia show that collectively, average tuition and fees for the commonwealth’s four-year institutions have shot up from $2,191 in 2000 ($3,044 in today’s dollars) to $11,592 this year. That’s a nearly three-fold increase.

The reasons for this are many, and have been explored at length elsewhere: Lavish dining halls with sushi bars, gymnasiums with climbing walls and other luxurious amenities schools use to entice applicants. Exorbitant coaching salaries. Empire-building presidents. Course catalogs stuffed with classes that are either frivolous or soaked in the trendy leftist identity politics with which so much of higher education is obsessed.

William & Mary is better than many schools in that last regard. Even so, a casual flip through the course catalog finds plenty of candidates for pruning, from judo and ballroom dance to Dis/Ability Studies (students will “study how the social constructions, symbols, and stigmas associated with dis/ability identity are related to larger systems of power that oppress and exclude”); Gender and Postcoloniality (“provides critical analysis of European employment of enlightenment thought and emerging ideas on race to justify colonial expansion and oppression”); Topics in Gender and Sexuality; Literature and the Formation of Homosexuality; Wealth, Inequality, and Power; Feminist Theory and Contemporary Theatre; Sex & Race in Plays & Films: Dramatizing Diversity; and so on.

Virginia parents with students at W&M would be wise to scrutinize more than just their bills.

 

Shrek at Sangster Elementary

Sangster Elementary put on a great production of Shrek! I give it two thumbs up! Go see it for the rest of the week at 7 PM.Shrek at Sangster