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Cox Calls on Lawmakers To Reopen Schools Quickly

Man speaking
Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) speaking at a VPM candidate forum in 2019. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Delegate and candidate for governor Kirk Cox announced a series of education proposals Thursday. 

The former House speaker and high school teacher says schools need to return to five days of in-person learning each week as soon as possible. 

The Virginia Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, has previously rebuffed calls to reopen schools before all teachers are vaccinated. Cox says it’s a necessary step to stop learning loss associated with virtual school, but notes it won’t solve every problem.

“We also need to recognize that going back to the classroom is simply not going to be enough,” Cox said - the next challenge for parents, students and teachers is making up for that lost in-person instruction.

“A lost year cannot become a lost generation,” he said.

He urged the General Assembly to pass ten policies he says will help Virginia students get back on track.

Chief among them: funding for one-on-one or small-group tutoring for all of Virginia’s children.

Cox says that will require mobilizing Virginia’s teaching workforce, including student teachers and retirees, to tutor and teach summer school. He’s proposing untaxed stipends for teachers who provide that help.

“And by the way, I will be one of those tutors. I’m more than happy to do that,” he said.

Cox is also calling for the state to reimburse parents for supplemental learning and supplies needed for at-home learning.

He is not sure how much this will all cost, but estimates a price tag of about $85 million.

Cox says he’s been disappointed with Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday, Northam announced a plan to extend the school year into the summer to make up for learning losses. He said the details of that plan will be shared Friday.

Here’s the full list of proposals made by Cox: 


  • Additional state funding for 1-on-1 or small-group tutoring
  • READ Fund established to reimburse parents for supplemental learning and supplies, including virtual learning tech
  • Summer remediation programs covered by federal relief funds
  • Virginia Department of Education establishes best practices to make up the learning loss by March 31, 2021
  • VDOE establishes statewide screening process for losses by March 31, 2021
  • Overtime stipends for teachers providing extra in-person help, untaxed by the state
  • Additional untaxed stipends for summer school teachers in 2021
  • Mobilize retired and substitute teacher workforce to tutor and teach summer school
  • Mobilize university student teachers to tutor for class credit
  • Streamline re-enrollment processes for fall return to public schools

 

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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