Virginia’s Democratic leadership is finally starting to call for a return to in-person learning, but gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is calling for immediate next steps to address learning losses caused by virtual learning. In a Thursday press conference, Cox laid out his proposals, including expanding availability of tutors, assessing learning loss, and providing financial support to parents for remedial materials.
“We need to get students back in the classroom now, and I am glad that the Governor, President Biden, and other Democrats are finally starting to follow the science. That does not, however, excuse them from being held accountable for the damage their failed leadership has done,” Cox said in a press release.
He said the General Assembly should act now. Cox said his proposals could be funded with federal relief money. His proposals include additional funding through schools for one-on-one tutoring, establishing a READ fund to reimburse parents for supplemental learning expenses, and creating summer remedial classes. He called for the Commonwealth to use retired and substitute teachers and university students as tutors for after-school and summer programs. He asked for teachers to be paid more, tax-free, for their involvement in extra programs. He also called for the establishment of a statewide learning loss screening system by March 31.
Cox, who is a retired government teacher, said, “Last July, I joined a number of fellow legislators in urging Governor Northam to prioritize five days of in-person learning. He didn’t listen, and for months our school buildings sat shuttered while students languished in virtual and remote settings that did not meet their needs, despite the best effort of Virginia’s hardworking teachers.”
Cox is one of several GOP gubernatorial candidates trying to establish bona-fides as a leader on schools.
On Tuesday, Pete Snyder announced his Open Our Schools tour. Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) touts her support of legislation to send additional funding to parents who are facing costs from virtual learning. Sergio de la Peña said leaders need to stand up to teachers’ unions. And last week, Glenn Youngkin tweeted that he had spoken with Loudoun County Public Schools parent Brandon Michon, who went viral after unleashing on the school board for keeping schools closed.
“The garbage workers who pick up my freaking trash risk their lives every day more than anyone in this school system,” Michon shouted at the board. “Figure it out!”
On Thursday, Cox said, “We need a plan to attack the learning loss and get every child in Virginia back on track, regardless of their zip code or their background. And we need to reward the teachers who go above and beyond to make it happen. The General Assembly’s focus, and the focus of Virginia’s next Governor, must now turn to addressing the damaging effects caused by extended remote learning and making sure no child falls behind permanently. A lost year cannot become a lost generation.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Kirk Cox” by Kirk Cox. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.