Democratic candidate for Governor Creigh Deeds issued the following statement on the Virginia Education Association's review of the voting records of both gubernatorial candidates.
The VEA review, reprinted below, awards Deeds a grade of "A" (94%) for his support on legislative issues of concern to Virginia's public school teachers. Our opponent earned an "F" score for supporting public schools only 52% of the time.
"I appreciate the VEA's honest assessment of the voting records of my opponent and I, because the Commonwealth's continued economic success depends on access to a quality public education.
"Our bipartisan focus on honest measurements and accountability, combined with responsible investments and innovation, have created a K-12 system that places Virginia at the top of many national rankings. That's the same approach I will insist upon as Virginia's next governor.
"In 2004, I was proud to stand in support of a bipartisan budget and tax reform program that led to an additional $1.5 billion investment in K-12 public education. As the VEA memorandum correctly points out, my opponent was dead set against' that historic, bipartisan investment in our schools.
"Like President Obama, I am in favor of innovative charter school programs that are held to appropriate standards of accountability. My opponent's record, on the other hand, reveals his longstanding support for diverting needed funding from our public schools through voucher and tuition tax credit schemes."
Below is the VEA e-mail sent to statewide educators and constituents
June 25, 2009
Subject: CLI: Sizing up Deeds and McDonnell on Education Issues
As we decide which gubernatorial candidate to support, the fact that Deeds and McDonnell have voting records is significant. Kaine, having come to the Mansion by the way of local government, had no state level voting record to back his words. Deeds and McDonnell have shown their true stripes as they have voted over many years and many sessions in the Virginia General Assembly.
The VEA Fund (formerly known as VEA-PAC) has not recommended a candidate, so I find myself in the delightful position of being able to discuss the positions the candidates are taking from a policy rather than a political perspective. I won't judge the candidates, but I will tell you where they stand, with an emphasis on those areas that offer a contrast. I am fortunate to have completed questionnaires from both candidates, the tapes of our forum in which they both participated and we just finished interviewing both candidates.
First, if you examine the candidate's VEA voting records you will see that Deeds and McDonnell have a clear history based on many sessions. In 15 regular and 2 special sessions Deeds VEA voting record is 93.5%. In 11 regular sessions and 2 special sessions, McDonnell's VEA voting record is 52.4%
Deeds = 93.5%
McDonnell = 52.4%
The most obvious contrast in positions is over the issue of public funds to private schools via vouchers or tuition-tax-credits. Deeds opposed vouchers and tuition-tax-credits, while Bob McDonnell supported tuition-tax-credits. While he alludes to Constitutional concerns regarding vouchers, McDonnell will not say that he opposes them. and he supports the voucher program in DC.
Deeds opposes efforts to eliminate or weaken Virginia's continuing contract laws. McDonnell refuses to answer "yes" or "no" to the question and alludes to Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., who is "making comprehensive reforms in the school system ...."
While Deeds supports expanding the retiree health care credit to educational support professionals, McDonnell says he "will need more information on the fiscal impact and our current budget situation."
Deeds supports permissive meet-and-confer legislation, while McDonnell opposes.
Perhaps, McDonnell's strong support for "performance based incentives," too, is a matter of contrast? I have heard him espousing linkage of test scores and pay and he lists this item as one of his top priorities on his questionnaire, but I have not heard Deeds react to a question on that topic.
The 2004 Special Session, which led to an additional $1.5 billion dollars for public education, was probably the most consequential session in the political lives of the two candidates. In that session Deeds stood with Governor Warner, Senator Chichester and VEA in support of restoring structural balance to the budget of the Commonwealth and investing in public education. McDonnell was dead set against us.
When every candidate has a dear relative who is a teacher and all see public education as the "top priority" it is difficult to determine "Who's for kids, and who's just kidding?" I hope this overview is helpful as you begin to decide which candidate deserves your support. The VEA Fund may offer a recommendation on July 23. I urge all to vote on November 3.