Kings Dominion Law Survives for Now

Yesterday the Senate Education Committee, in a surprise to me, killed several bills designed to repeal Virginia’s “Kings Dominion” law.

For those not aware, the law requires Virginia school districts to start their year after Labor Day, which means no school until well into September.  That apparently gives a boost to Virginia’s tourism industry.

I have always supported repeal.  First, our school calendar should not be dictated by any industry.  Second, with national standardized testing in May, our kids receive less actual learning time than their peers in other states.  Third, the summer break is already TOO LONG.  (take it from a father of 4 kids).

And, yes, my family is a major consumer of Virginia tourism with annual trips to Virginia Beach, southwest Virginia and various amusement parks.

Of course, Virginia has recognized the onerous nature of the law by granting waivers to 77 school districts, which are mostly small and rural.  All the major ones (Fairfax, Prince William, Virginia Beach) are still trapped under the existing law.  So this is having a continuing impact on the majority of our kids.

Apparently a bill will come over from the House, so we will get a second chance to get this right.  Like the “Sunday hunting” ban, the “Kings Dominion” law is an anachronism.

2012 is a good year to get rid of it.


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  • isophoroneblog

    I agree with you. The problem also is that because the SOL and other tests have to be given with a few weeks left of school, almost no learning goes on for the rest of the school year. This is a phenomenal waste of time and taxpayer dollars. Also, if school starts earlier, wouldn’t it end earlier, so the amount of vacation and tourist time would be the same?

    BTW, do you have a link to the proposed bills or the actual vote tallies in the Senate Education Committee so we can see who voted which way?

  • Chap Petersen

    Look at SB 457. The vote was to PBI, so a “yes” was to kill the bill (and keep the repeal). The motion passed 9-6.

  • 6987534

    YEAS–Martin, Lucas, Newman, Barker, Northam, Miller, J.C., McWaters, Black, Carrico–9.

    NAYS–Saslaw, Howell, Blevins, Locke, Smith, Garrett–6.

  • Whitney Wilson

    I disagree with you here Chap. One more week of school time should not make a meaningful difference in preparing for national tests given 9 months later. I’ve also heard arguments that it the current calendar provides less time to prepare for the SOL’s. Of course, if that is really a problem (and again, there are months between the beginning of school and the administration of the tests), then Virginia can just move the test dates back by a week. At least in Arlington, there are currently at least 4 weeks between the SOL’s and the end of the school year.

    I really like the fact that August is summer vacation time; its good for families and – at least at the end of the month when many southern states are back in school – many vacation spots are not as crowded as they are earlier in the summer. I haven’t seen a good reason to change the current system.

    • isophoroneblog

      I think there may be reporting requirements that prevent the Commonwealth from moving the standardized tests back a week or two (or so I’ve heard). Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

  • DJRippert

    Once again our General Assembly is interfering in a matter that should be entirely left to the localities.

    Over its history, Virginia has operated under seven different constitutions. The most recent constitution was adopted in 1971.

    It is time we write the eighth constitution. Far too much power vests in the General Assembly. A one term governor, elected Lieutenant Governor, elected Attorney General, lack of a recall or citizen referendum process, strict adherence to Dillon’s Rule and off year state elections are just some of the structural issues which provide too much power to the state legislature.

    This bill is just another example of the political elite in Richmond interfering where they are neither wanted nor necessary.

  • Tbailsh

    No one seems to be concerned that we’re relying entirely too much on these standardized tests over which Virginia claims to have no control.

    If a kid can’t pass a standardized test with 100 days of school, s/he can’t pass it with 120 either. Or s/he’ll just squeak by – certainly not demonstrating a mastery of the subject matter.

  • Anonymous

    ” No one seems to be concerned that we’re relying entirely too much on these standardized tests over which Virginia claims to have no control.”

    these tests are Va tests…. Va designs them and gives them.

    what the Federal law requires is that Va have a test and that they reports the results of the test.

    It’s up to Va to decide what is on the test and when it is given.

    Va’s test is actually weaker than the NAEP standard which is essentially a standard used by most industrialized countries other than us.

    Va says that 2/3 of kids graduate as “proficient” in reading, math, and language.

    NAEP says that only 1/3 of Va kids actually meet that standard.

    Many parents think that their kids will grow up and get a job somewhere. That’s no longer true. Many manufacturing jobs have gone away and the knowledge-based jobs require better education that most of our kids have received.

    If we don’t get serious about education in Va, many kids are going to grow up making their living flipping burgers or delivering pizzas.

    and the ones that don’t get better jobs..they will require entitlements from the kids who did do better.

    Our duty here is to require that our education system in Va equip kids with a legitimate 21st century education.

    We look totally foolish having these passionate discussions about King’s Dominion.