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Del. Greason defends his ‘A-F’ school grading bill

Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) said House Bill 1999 is all about transparency and ensuring parents understand how schools are performing. Times-Mirror File Photo
State Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) says he has yet to meet a single parent in his Loudoun County district who doesn't support his school grading bill approved by the General Assembly in 2013, but his critics are questioning the brain trust behind the seemingly straightforward legislation.

The bill (HB 1999), which was passed 65-31 in the House of Delegates and 22-17 in the Senate, will assign simple A-F letter grades to individual public schools. The marks will be based on student progress and the school's ability to meet state and federal benchmarks.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell served as one of the most high-profile advocates for Greason's legislation.

“I'm pleased to see that this measure to bring accountability and transparency to Virginia public schools is on its path to being signed into law,” McDonnell said after the Senate passed the measure.

McDonnell thanked legislators “for supporting this tool to allow parents and teachers to better advocate for and improve the schools in their communities. This is a commonsense bill that will allow us to continue to improve the quality of education for all Virginia students."

Yet in recent weeks, Greason's critics, including Democrat Elizabeth Miller -- Greason's challenger in the Nov. 5 election -- have pointed to the fact that A-F grading has been a lobbying point of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank that promotes limited government and free markets.

Despite having attended two ALEC conferences during his time in the House of Delegates, Greason told the Times-Mirror he was unaware the group supported A-F legislation until this summer.

“[HB 1999] is based off of something that was done in Florida 10 years ago,” Greason said in a Sept. 6 interview, adding that Florida's public schools have improved since the grading implementation.

“I'm doing this for the parents in my district.” Greason added.

The two-term lawmaker said the bill is all about transparency and ensuring parents understand how schools are performing.

Still, similar legislation has sparked controversy in other states.

In Indiana last year, after A-F school grading was enacted, the state's now-former superintendent of public instruction was found to have altered the school grade for an Indiana charter school founded by a big-money Republican donor.

In Maine, the state made errors when calculating the scores of some of its public schools.

Opponents of the simple A-F grading system fear lawmakers will use possibly-manipulated or miscalculated grades to close public schools and tout options beyond public education.

Portions of Greason's bill closely follow model legislation drafted by ALEC, which holds a cozy relationship with the National Rights Association, the Heritage Foundation and the climate-change denying Heartland Institute, according to a report by The Nation magazine.

Virginia taxpayers paid nearly $1,500 for Greason to attend ALEC meetings in 2011, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). In 2010, Greason attended one taxpayer-funded ALEC conference for $555, VPAP reports.

Greason's opponent, Miller, said she's skeptical of her challenger's comments that he was unaware of the ALEC-school grading connection.

She said she would've voted against the A-F grading legislation were she serving in the House at the time.

“I believe it's about obfuscation, not simplification,” Miller said. “I think parents will end up being confused about how the grades came to be.”

But, Greason said, much of the methodology in evaluating Virginia's schools won't change. He said the state Board of Education – as it always has – will be doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to gauging schools' success.

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Now we get robo-calls from Tag urging us to vote early. Someone should explain about absentee voting to Tag. If you are not going to be here In Loudoun or have a special needs you can vote early otherwise see you at the polls. F is the grade for Tag and early voting!

We support Miller in our house because of her fiscal solutions offered. I kinda like a spunky gal versus the old white guy masquerading as a republican especially when it comes to the largest tax increase in the history of Virginia, thanks Tag!

Too bad he didn’t put his time into a grade your politician? If you received a C or below, you not only don’t get paid, but you lose all your benefits. Now that would be fair…

Greason, McDonnell, Cuccinelli, and Obenshain all contributed to or benefitted from ALEC connections. Look it up on VPAP. Pay your own way to these conferences; many taxpayers strongly disagree with the tactics!

Hope Miller has a day job, because she won’t be winning election in the 32nd. Her supporters were gerrymandered out of the district.

Since this article appeared, and people have read it, Greason now admits that he is losing. See http://millerhousehold.com/wordpress/?p=296

Someone who didn’t know that Alec supported his bill wants to grade our school, c’mon man!
BTW Ken Cuccinelli told Gov. Bob that the bill is unconstitutional and to get some other council. Anyone who looks at Liz Millers page about this should look at her Greenway solution it makes sense.

Skid - Moving “underperforming” kids from inner city schools to “good” private or suburban public schools doesn’t really work either.  The school is only part of the equation.  The rest is home life. 

It doesn’t matter if the kid is at the best high school in the country, if he goes home to no food on the table and a dysfunctional single parent who doesn’t care one bit about his education, he is screwed regardless. 

No grading system, increase in funding, voucher program, charter school, or “state takeover” is going to solve that problem.  With that said, no “program” is really going to solve that problem either unless you have an idea on how we can stop unfit people from having children.

Don’t forget, too, that part and parcel to this A-F scale was the ability for the state to come in and take over all failing schools in every division…essentially creating one massive statewide school division, with the proviso built in that it can then turn over the management of said schools to for-profit private entities…and we’ve seen how well that’s turned out elsewhere. Yes, the GOP-dominated legislature and our GOP governor (all who proudly thump their chests that they are for “less government”) created this massive increase in state government power…influenced by ALEC and for-profit business cronies but wrapped in the patriotic bunting of “it’s for the families and children” as is their wont.

“A-F grading”

And the alternative is…....?  So how are grades currently being determined?

FTA:  “Opponents of the simple A-F grading system fear lawmakers will use possibly-manipulated or miscalculated grades to close public schools and tout options beyond public education.”

Bingo!  And now we see what the real issue is, ladies and gentlemen.  We certainly don’t want “options” to public education, do we?

Good investigative reporting by the Times-Mirror.

ALEC’s control over Tag Greason’s legislative agenda goes far beyond his donor-friendly “A-F” bill. Liz’s Web site has more details, with references: ElizabethMillerForDelegate.com

Another push to get public schools defunded and money pushed to private schools.

For people who have been asleep at the wheel for 35 years the failed public schools are mostly in Red states and most of the policy making stuff worse are republican policies. No child left behind being the worst of the worst.

Most schools that suck are in communities that suck. Poverty and Failing Schools go hand in hand. Just look at Washington DC schools.

The best solution to address a failing school, is to to close the school and bus the kids to better performing schools outside of their community.

Isn’t it always the progressives that claim citizens will be “confused” about policy, therefore citizens need to listen to them to ensure they know what to think?

Liz Miller is demeaning citizens once again.

Think for yourself Loudoun, and don’t let the progressives lead you by the nose, no matter the policy.

I am sure the only reason the schools in Florida improved was because of the A-F grading system. He didn’t know because he was at a 1300 dollar Redskin football game?

“Virginia taxpayers paid nearly $1,500 for Greason to attend ALEC meetings in 2011”

Why are we paying for this?  Never mind the questionable value of the grading system.

I thought Repubs were about less govt? So, how does this work. If a school receives an F, they fire all their teachers? They fire the principal, They take away money? Are the schools rewarded if they get an A? Who does the grading and what is it based on? So we don’t need to worry about SOL scores? Just a waste of time and taxpayers money. I really which Tag would represent his constituents better…... He lost my vote. Tag must not get around because I know many in Loudoun that feel the same way I do.

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