*Hoping to improve the District’s most struggling schools, a new D.C. bill proposes a three-year pilot program that would offer a $10,000 bonus and other incentives to top teachers who are willing to relocate to these “high-need schools.”
D.C. Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson broadly supports the bill, saying that effective teachers are the “cornerstone” of her reform efforts, the Washington Times reports.
In D.C., the most highly rated teachers are often concentrated in high performing schools while they are needed most in some of the District’s most low-performing schools.This bill would hopefully encourage effective teachers to switch to some of these struggling schools.
Sponsored by D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, the legislation received a generally positive reception at its hearing Monday, according to the Post, but many educators warned that incentives may not be enough to lure good teachers into struggling classrooms.
“Moving highly effective teachers from one school to another alone will not immediately ensure that high needs schools see dramatic changes in their classrooms,” the Post reported that Cosby Hunt, a former DCPS teacher and manager of teaching and learning at the Center for Inspired Teaching, said.
Others said that success in one school does not necessarily translate to success in another school.
The bill, according to the Post, would bring 20 teachers to four high-need schools. In exchange, the teachers would get a $10,000 bonus, homebuyer and housing assistance, tuition assistance, loan repayment assistance for existing education loans and income tax credits.
*The already heated Virginia Senate race between former Virginia governors Tim Kaine and George Allen is officially on.
Allen released a television ad Monday that highlights President Obama’s decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline project while interlaying comments from Kaine pledging his support to the president.
"By applauding President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone Pipeline, Tim Kaine said no to thousands of good-paying American jobs and a steady supply of affordable energy from our closest neighbor and ally," Allen's campaign said.
The ad ends by asserting that Kaine is Obama’s senator, not Virginia’s.
The Kaine campaign responded with the following:
"On the one hand, Allen has called for the administration to hurry up and approve the pipeline. On the other, Allen has refused to take a position on uranium mining, saying that he would wait to analyze the results of a National Academy of Sciences study, adding that 'while jobs are important, so is public health and safety.'"
* Gov. Martin O’Malley is hosting a breakfast in Annapolis this morning with gay activists and members of religious communities to discuss his bill legalizing same-sex marriages, The Baltimore Sun reports.
The governor is expected to introduce his long-awaited same-sex marriage bill this evening and told reporters that this time around the bill will have exemptions for religious organizations that don’t want to honor same sex-marriages.
A bill legalizing same-sex marriages passed through the Senate last year but failed to get the necessary approval in the House.
* Although outside his legislative agenda, the governor also pledged his support for transgender rights yesterday and said he would back a bill to extend employment, housing and other rights to transgender people, according to the Sun.
* Monday was a busy day in the Virginia General Assembly. Here are some of the legislative highlights:
- The Senate Courts of Justice committee passed a bill that calls for a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of raping a child under the age of 13.
- Another bill passed through the committee would put the names of juveniles convicted of rape, forcible sodomy or object sexual penetration on a registry that would only be available to law enforcement.
- Virginia Senate Democrats and Republicans unanimously passed legislation yesterday establishing a seven-member bipartisan commission to deal with all redistricting plans for the House of Delegates, Virginia Senate and congressional districts. The legislation comes in the wake of last week’s controversial GOP redistricting map that passed through the split Senate with a 20-19 vote along party lines.
Musicians definitely won’t like the sound of this bill. Del. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, is sponsoring legislation that would deny active symphony orchestra performers unemployment benefits between orchestra seasons.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Loupassi said Monday he introduced the bill after finding out that many performers in the state collect on unemployment each year.
"They're not unemployed. They know they're coming back. They always come back," Loupassi told the Times. "They just have a job that's seasonal. Baseball players don't get to collect unemployment in the off season."
David J.L. Fisk, Richmond Symphony Executive Director, said that about a quarter of the orchestra’s 70 members collect unemployment every year, with the typical performer earning between $33,000-$44,000 during the symphony’s 38-week season, the Times reports.
* D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes are opposing efforts on Capitol Hill to make D.C.’s World War I monument—the only monument dedicated solely to D.C.—a national monument.
Holmes decried the effort as an attack “on D.C.’s integrity as a jurisdiction."
"No one is going to go to Nebraska or Wyoming or Delaware or any other state and say let's nationalize your memorial," Mayor Gray said. "We deserve the same respect."
* Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday that the first shipment of Virginia bulls have been exported to Russia.
The Russian market for live animal imports is currently valued at more than $300 million, making this a valuable export deal for Virginia, according to the state’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, Todd P. Haymond.