Prince William County Schools were obviously quite happy to report on the assigned responsibilities for members of the School Board today, detailing which members were the official liaisons to various associations and professional education organizations. There were representatives to the Virginia School Board Association, the National School Boards Association, the Northern Virginia Special Education Regional Board, the National Alliance of Black School Educators, and the Washington Area Boards of Education. Membership in each of these organization requires the School Division to pay annual dues, and of course each has an annual conference that board members must attend at taxpayer expense as well.
And what do taxpayers get as a result of this expenditure of funds? As far as I can tell, we get squat.
When questioning why we’re doing this I soon discovered that the Code of Virginia has a requirement for School Board members to fulfill continuing education requirements, and of course these organizations are the ones that just happen to fulfill these requirements (and likely demanded the passage of this law). In their underwhelming vision, the General Assembly has enacted laws that require the expenditure of public funds to have elected officials attend conferences so they can listen to Arianna Huffington and Montel Williams regale them with their expertise in managing school divisions (of which they have absolutely none) and hear “inspirational speakers.” Should a school division fail to send their elected officials on these taxpayer-funded junkets, presumably there’s some sanction directed at the school systems and/or the funding they’re eligible to receive.
Today the House Republican Caucus announced their education legislative agenda for the year, and while there’s some decent ideas in the mix, I’m just shocked to see that they haven’t realized just how outrageous this is and aren’t planning in any way to repeal these sections of Virginia Code § 22.1-253.13:5. Are they simply unaware of the laws they have passed? Or do they happen to think that mandating that elected officials jump through hoops and engage in various “ticket punching” exercises as a condition for their continuance in public office is a good idea?
Since I’m not going to presume stupidity on their part, I’d like to helpfully suggest a few further additions to the Virginia Code that might help ensure consistency in how Virginia law treats elected officials. Therefore, I think they seriously should consider adding the following mandates as a requirement of their own continuing service in the Virginia General Assembly, since what’s good for the School Board “goose” must certainly be wonderful for the House of Delegates “gander.”
- All members of the Virginia General Assembly must successfully complete a graduate-level college course of at least 3 credit hours at an accredited public university in Virginia each annum in one of the following subjects: Law, public policy, criminal science or finance. Their grades will be reported by the Clerks of the House and Senate on the first day of the legislative session, and expenses for passing grades in these courses will be reimbursed by the Commonwealth.
- All members of the Virginia General Assembly must become a member of an organization expressly and primarily dedicated to the protection of one or more of the freedoms defined in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, that is headquartered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their dues will be reimbursed by the Commonwealth. Yes, the National Rifle Association would qualify here.
- In lieu of attending some conference or convention in some posh venue as School Board members are wont, each member of the General Assembly shall instead serve “Kitchen Patrol” (KP) duty for 48 hours during the annual training of a Virginia Army or Air Force National Guard unit. During this time some of the members might have a chance to gain passing familiarity with the circumstances under which Virginia’s armed forces, which they are responsible for, must operate.
- Failure to complete these requirements shall make a member ineligible as a candidate in the next subsequent election.
I figure that after a couple of years of this, either the members of the General Assembly will at least learn something useful if not realize that putting “continuing education” requirements on elected officials is just a dumb idea. I’d like to think that my list makes more sense than most, but the foolishness of the entire concept can’t overcome whatever quality one can create with the requirements.
There’s only one requirement for an elected official - that’s to get elected. All the other responsibilities rest upon the people.
So will any of the members of the General Assembly have the guts to even propose any of these changes? Or perhaps remove these requirements from the Virginia Code?
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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