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The Comstock Record on Education
Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013


Dear Neighbor,


As parents involved on education issues in our McLean community, we ask you to join us in voting to re-elect our Delegate, Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34).  As strong advocates for our schools, we have worked with Barbara on numerous education issues. She has been a strong partner and advocate for our children and is a long-time supporter of educational excellence.  She has attended our meetings, fought side by side with us for our schools, and been a tireless worker for our children.  Her opponent, Kathleen Murphy, has no record of working with or advocating for our schools and has, unfortunately, run a very negative campaign attacking Barbara.  We would like to set the record straight on Barbara's strong advocacy for our children.


First, Barbara comes from a family of educators.  She and her husband, Chip, moved to McLean in 1981 when Chip was hired as a math teacher at Langley High School (HS).  After teaching at McLean HS and Falls Church HS, Chip became an assistant principal at Oakton HS.  Barbara's sister, Cynthia Coogan, is a guidance counselor at Madison HS and previously served at McLean HS.  Barbara's mother was a lifelong educator who served as a teacher, a librarian and a school administrator. 


Second, Barbara has continually listened and diligently worked with us on reversing budget cuts to our schools.   When Barbara was first elected in 2009, the first issue she faced was an unfair change in the state funding formula for schools, which would have cost Northern Virginia schools over $120 million and Fairfax County schools over $60 million.  Barbara lobbied her colleagues and the Governor to reverse this injustice.  She participated in a demonstration at Churchill Road Elementary School and rallied the business community and others.  Reversing these cuts without tax increases was a great victory for our community.  Since then, Barbara has continued to fight for more funding for our local schools through "cost to compete" funds, which account for the higher cost of living in Fairfax County.  


Barbara is an effective advocate for our local schools because she understands that the state's basic education funding formula penalizes Northern Virginia schools.  She focuses on finding ways to mitigate this punitive formula, such as through cost to compete funds.  A less focused approach, like that advocated by her opponent, would require Fairfax residents to pay $4 in extra state taxes for every additional $1 in state funding, and we urge you to read the attached pdf file that provides more details.


Third, On the Issues: 


Class Size.  Barbara was one of the first local leaders to put her weight behind education initiatives dealing with inequities in our area.  Barbara introduced a bill that led the School Board to vote in 2011 to finally keep its promise to bring Full-Day Kindergarten to the schools in Barbara's district.  Now, Barbara is working with local parents to address class size inequities.  


Class sizes in our area are among the largest in the county; one of our children had 35-plus students for three years in a row at Spring Hill Elementary School.  Barbara agreed this was unacceptable and took action.  She met with local parents, arranged a public meeting with the president of the state Board of Education, obtained clarification about current state law standards and spoke to the new FCPS Superintendent, Dr. Garza.  Barbara's position within the community has put this important issue on the radar screen of local officials, and we are glad that our community is working together in a bipartisan manner to alleviate excessive class sizes in our schools.


Teacher Compensation.  Barbara understands that teachers are the front line in our schools and need to be fairly compensated.  Last spring, she contacted one of us to ask if FCPS intended to use state incentive funds to give teachers a 2% raise during the 2013-14 school year.  Upon hearing that the former FCPS superintendent was providing inaccurate information about the local tax dollars needed to use the state matching funds, Barbara provided accurate data, which was combined with information from teachers associations and presented to Fairfax County School Board members.  As education advocates who believe strongly in the importance of hiring and retaining good classroom teachers, we appreciated Barbara's proactive and pragmatic approach. 


School Calendar.  Barbara has led the bipartisan effort to repeal the King's Dominion Law so that FCPS - like most other Virginia school districts - can start the school year before Labor Day.  Current state law disadvantages FCPS students by reducing the time they have to prepare for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, and our school system has sought repeal of the King's Dominion Law for years. 


More In-State College Spots.  Barbara has been a leader in the General Assembly in getting more in-state college spots for our children.  She introduced legislation to increase the percentage of in-state students at our public colleges and worked with her colleagues to obtain funding for 1700 in-state college spots. In-state, university admissions is one of Barbara's top priorities. 


Finally, Barbara understands our children need a strong 21st century job market and she has been a leader in making Virginia #1 for jobs.  She spearheaded bills that brought hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to our area.  Her competitive bidding legislation is estimated to have saved taxpayers $400 million on Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail project.  Her extensive efforts to create jobs not only benefit current adults, but also will provide our children with local job opportunities when they enter the workforce in the future.


Barbara's strong jobs record has earned her the support of every jobs-focused group in the Commonwealth - the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Technology Council's TechPAC, Farm Bureau, Credit Unions, and National Federation of Independent Businesses.  She also earned the Virginia Police Benevolent Association's endorsement for her strong public safety record.


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 issues in that manner.  The quality of our children's education - and ensuring that they have access to good jobs when they graduate - is her primary concern.


As education advocates and parents who care deeply about our schools and our community, we ask that you join us in voting for Delegate Barbara Comstock on November 5. 


Jody Bennett

Jennifer & Marc Cadin

Jill Cook

Linda Menghetti Dempsey

Louise Epstein

Kim Farrell

Catherine & Bruce Haynes

Dana Jackins

Heather Kadel

Chrissie Lavin

Catherine Lorenze

Terri Markwart

Caran McKee

Kathleen & Steve Mullery

Jan & John Pascoe

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.