Teacher Cabinet Could Boost Local Voice

Posted: May 13, 2013

HARRISONBURG — A new teacher’s cabinet being filled by Gov. Bob McDonnell could provide local educators a chance to voice concerns at a state level.

The Governor’s Teacher Cabinet, created with an executive order from McDonnell on May 1, will include teachers who will advise the governor and secretary of education on policies that affect instructors. Applications and nominations for a spot on the cabinet will be accepted until Wednesday.

Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner and Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Carol Fenn said last week that with the deadline just days away, they hoped to generate interest among area educators to join the cabinet.

“Whenever we can be at the table as teachers and professional educators advising the governor, advising legislators [and] advising state leaders, we will want to be there,” Fenn said.

The cabinet “will recommend short term action and long term strategy to improve teaching and continue to recognize this distinguished profession,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, vice chairman of the House of Delegates’ education committee, issued a press release this week urging local teachers to apply.

“I am confident that those working with students on a daily basis can offer the best insight into how students think and learn,” he said in the release.

Kizner said the opportunity for teachers to influence legislation was a good one, but was curious about the governor’s timing.

“I can’t really tell if this is a legislative act that continues upon his departure or is it something that remains in effect as long as he’s governor,” Kizner said. “I think it would have been more beneficial for him and the GA if he had done this earlier in his term.”

It’s not clear if the next governor — either Democrat Terry McAuliffe or Republican Ken Cuccinelli — will continue the cabinet, but there’s no reason it could not become a permanent part of the executive branch’s team of advisers. Virginians will elect McDonnell’s successor in November and the winner will take office in January.

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com

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