Thanks to Fairfax County School Board member Pat Hynes for her letter (“Strong schools depend on informed voters,” Fairfax County Times, Aug. 23) urging people “to get involved in this year’s elections.” Acting on her suggestion, I checked the voting record of my local representatives on the issues Hynes raised in her discussion of the challenges faced by Fairfax County Public Schools.
Hynes cites “kindergarten readiness” as a factor in the persistent achievement gap we see in our local schools and identifies poverty and lack of health care as challenges our schools face in meeting the needs of all students. Cuts to Head Start and federal food assistance programs today affect thousands of Fairfax County preschoolers, and the refusal of some state officials, like Del. Barbara Comstock (R-Dist. 34), to support implementation of the Affordable Care Act means that 30,000 low-income working people in Fairfax County, and their children, are to be denied health coverage next year.
Support for public school programs to address readiness issues can be costly. Fortunately, the cost of the expanding heath coverage under ACA is fully paid by the federal government through 2016 and at least 90 percent federal government funded after that. Comstock’s opposition to expanding health coverage for low-income families is based on the same stubborn ideological opposition to the ACA that is leading some in Congress to threaten a government shutdown this fall.
In addition, Comstock voted this year against a Virginia budget that included teacher pay raises and higher education funding to provide more slots for Virginia students at our elite public universities.
From her position on the Fairfax school board, Pat Hynes sees the need for strong partnerships between local and state officials to meet the challenges facing our schools. Unfortunately, Barbara Comstock has not proved herself to be much of a partner.
Nancy Hopkins, Tysons Corner