As a parent and education advocate who has worked for seven years on various initiatives in Fairfax County, I would like to express my gratitude to Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34) for her significant efforts to improve the public education experience in our area.
I know bipartisanship when I see it. I helped elect two Democratic-party endorsed members of the FCPS School Board (Sandy Evans and Megan McLaughlin) and two Republican-party endorsed members of the School Board (Patty Reed and Elizabeth Schultz.) Northern Virginia is filled with parents and taxpayers who want kids and teachers’ concerns put first in education. Del. Comstock has done that time and time again and she’ll continue to do it if re-elected this November.
Del. Comstock was one of the first local leaders to put her weight behind education initiatives dealing with inequities in our area. Class size is a particular area where Barbara is really making a mark. For three years in a row, one of my children was in a class with 35-plus students at Spring Hill Elementary. Barbara agreed this was unacceptable and took action. She established a “Class Size Working Group” which has been meeting for over a year now. Her position within the community has helped get this important issue on the radar screen of other local officials who had previously ignored this legitimate inequity. Most recently, she spoke with FCPS’s new superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza, about these inequities, and Dr. Garza has appeared very receptive to supporting the group’s efforts. Finally, the community is working together in a bipartisan manner to alleviate excessive class sizes.
Barbara has also been a leader in trying to persuade her colleagues in Richmond for repeal of the King’s Dominion Law that would enable FCPS to start school before Labor Day. The current law disadvantages FCPS students when it comes to important college preparatory AP test dates and seriously limits the amount of time our graduates have between high school graduation and college start dates.
Importantly, Barbara was also very effective in working with delegates and local officials from both sides of the aisle in helping FCPS obtain its rightful share of state education funding (over $61 million in LCI funds) at a time when then-Gov. Tim Kaine wanted to change the local composite index funding formulas that would have disadvantaged Northern Virginia localities.
As someone involved in the education advocacy trenches, I can assure readers Barbara Comstock is the real deal when it comes to our area schools. She knows children don’t come with party labels and she approaches the issues in that manner. The quality of our children’s education is her primary concern.
Catherine Lorenze, McLean
The writer is a MCA Education and Youth Committee Member.