Pittsylvania County part of state pilot ‘Bridging the Gap’ education initiative

That’s the one that says what Washington isn’t empowered to do is up to the states and the people — and he proceeded to show the Colonial Forge High School students what that means by launching two education initiatives.

“So government students, we can actually get our government to take action, so let’s get to work,” he said. He gathered them around the table where he formally signed an executive order directing senior state officials to fix the long-running problem of Virginia schools needing more teachers.

In between that and his early Q&A with students on the Constitution, he led a roundtable with students, teachers, parents and administrators about a pilot program that’s just getting underway and is aimed at helping students who have fallen behind during the coronavirus pandemic get back on track.

State education officials announced in August that for the second year in a row, Virginia public school students fared worse on the annual state accountability tests than in years before the pandemic.

The idea of the “Bridging the Gap” initiative is to get students, parents and teachers working together to address gaps in what students learn. It will include a new style of individualized assessment, and calls for personalized learning plans for students who have fallen behind. Those plans are to be developed by students, parents and teachers, all of whom will be responsible for putting them into effect.

The program will include collecting new, detailed data about how students are doing, as well as a push to do a better job about explaining such data to students and parents.

“When parents, students and teachers are working together, anything is possible,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera.

Fifteen school divisions are participating in the pilot, with the key task of trading ideas about how to reach its goals.

Some of those ideas involve steps they have already taken while some are about the kinds of measures that might help and the kinds of problems that could emerge, Guidera said.

The 15 divisions are Chesterfield and Hanover counties as well as Amherst, Caroline, Craig, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Franklin, Gloucester, Pittsylvania, Stafford and Williamsburg-James City plus the Bristol, Charlottesville and Lynchburg school systems.

Youngkin’s executive order picks up on a theme he and Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater have stressed will be key to enhancing Virginia’s workforce development efforts.

The order directs the superintendent of public instruction and the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to develop an apprenticeship program for teachers.

The idea is to give would-be teachers on-the-job training, with pay, in classrooms as they do the academic work needed to become a teacher. It would also cover teacher aides.

Since child care is a significant challenge for many teachers, the order directs officials to look at ways to support such facilities in schools, and calls for an apprenticeship program for child care specialists.

It calls on officials to cut red tape that can discourage retired teachers and teachers licensed in other states from getting the Virginia licenses needed to teach here.

Youngkin also wants to use grants and state funds to step up efforts to recruit teachers in communities with the highest rates of unfilled positions.

In Coen’s class, before he formally signed the order, Youngkin explained why he’s a fan of the 10th Amendment:

“I find state government to be efficient, I find it to be transparent and most of all to be productive,” he said.

Then, an hour later after signing the order, he left the students with what he said was his most important advice:

“Do your homework and don’t be late for class.”

Article by Dave Ress | Register & Bee