Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Educational Priorities

Last weekend, I received a letter from Sen. Scott Surovell in which he thanked me for attending the public hearing in January 2018 before members of the Fairfax County delegation to the General Assembly. At the hearing, I had expressed my disagreement with Senator Surovell's opposition to past bills which, if enacted, would have permitted home schooled students to participate in interscholastic activities at their local high schools. I pointed out that Virginia Code Section 22.1-254.1 provides the requirements for home-schooled students to be evaluated to ensure they are meeting appropriate standards of educational progress. In his letter, Senator Surovell reiterated his view that home schooled students do not receive the same level of educational rigor as do students in our public schools.

In my view, the solution is not to deprive home schooled students of the ability to participate in interscholastic activities and thereby deprive them of the opportunity to enhance their resumes when applying to elite universities. If a solution is needed, it is to strengthen the requirements of Section 22.1-254.1. During this year's legislative session, a new Bill that would have permitted home schooled students to participate in interscholastic activities at their local high schools was defeated in committee, thereby rendering it unnecessary for Senator Surovell to vote against it.

I found myself wondering what could possibly be the true motivation for Senator Surovell's opposition. I may have found it in researching awards he has received and endorsements of his 2015 candidacy for the Virginia Senate. In 2015, he was endorsed by the Virginia Education Association and the Virginia Federation of Teachers. Most notably he received the "Solid as a Rock" award from the Virginia Education Association and the Fairfax Education Association. Recipients of these awards could only receive them if they had a 100 percent voting record on education issues during the time period 2014-2015. I suspect that a vote in favor of permitting home schooled students to participate in interscholastic activities at their local high schools would have ruined Senator Surovell's 100 percent voting record.

Voters in Senator Surovell's senatorial district should now be wondering whether a plaque displayed on Senator Surovell's office wall (if the award came with one) is more important than facilitating higher education opportunities for the children of his constituents. Senator Surovell is up for reelection in 2019 and his constituents should call him to the question on this issue.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon

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