Amendment Torpedoes School Choice Bill in Virginia

February 1, 2001

by Rusty Pugh

(AgapePress) – An amendment to a school choice bill in Virginia would had have a detrimental effect on home schoolers. Passage of that amendment sounded a death knell for the bill.

Democratic State Delegate Dick Cranwell effectively killed a school choice bill by introducing an amendment that would have required every private school and home schoolers to scrap their own approved curriculum and replace it with Virginia's public school curriculum. Joe Glover of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network says Cranwell knew what he was doing, making it impossible for a school choice bill to pass.

“Dicky Cranwell reminds me a lot of James Carville [Bill Clinton's campaign manager in 1992 and senior political advisor],” Glover says. “He's a skilled Democratic legislator, and what he did in the General Assembly to amend the school choice bill was not intended, really, to take away autonomy from home schoolers.”

“He knew very well that as soon as he passed that amendment that no one on the conservative side would be able to vote for school choice,” he says. “So it was nothing more than manipulation of the democratic process in the House of Delegates, and Dicky Cranwell is one of the best at doing it.”

Glover says following passage of the Cranwell amendment, the bill's author withdrew the legislation rather than have it pass with an amendment that would bring the standards of home schoolers down to the level of public schools.

The Family Policy Network is a national, non-profit organization operating in several states to educate churches and families and confront companies and public officials on important moral issues. Cranwell, Minority Floor Leader in Virginia's House of Delegates, represents the 14th District and has been a member of the House since 1972.

National Motto

On Monday, the Virginia House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill that would require all Virginia public schools to prominently post in “a conspicuous place” the national motto, “In God We Trust.” The bill, passed on a vote of 84-14, now goes to the state Senate. The bill's sponsor, Republican State Delegate Robert Marshall, had proposed similar legislation in the past, but it always died in committee.

“It must be all that silent prayer in public schools,” Marshall quipped. Marshall was a proponent of last year's Virginia law to require a minute of silence each day in public schools.

Cranwell voted in favor of the bill requiring posting of the national motto.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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