Committee rejects school posting plan

Richmond showed it has no appetite for any more posting mandates for schools Wednesday.

The House Education Committee took out all references to posting from a bill put in by Prince William Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-31st District, that adds excerpts from the Virginia Constitution to the 1998 character development curriculum for public schools.

The excerpts would have been required to be posted in all public classrooms that teach history, civics and government.

“If you can teach it, you can post it. It’s kind of moot,” said Lingamfelter after the posting language was stricken from the bill.

Committee member Phillip Hamilton, R-93rd District, of Newport News, opened up debate on the bill by asking how history teachers who float from room to room with a cart would deal with the requirement in science and math rooms.

Lingamfelter said the bill could be changed to give schools added discretion and flexibility.

Greensville Delegate Paul Councill, D-75th District, said he was against this additional posting because the General Assembly is pushing schools to post things all over their walls. He agrees to the principle, but said when it is taught, a teacher can use visuals.

Richmond last year passed a law requiring “In God We Trust” be posted in all Virginia public schools.

Lingamfelter then agreed to add “may” to the posting language, making it the local schools’ decision, no longer a requirement.

That prompted committee members to ask: Why put that allowance in the state code when the teacher is already permitted to post the values?

Fairfax County lobbyist Judy Singleton said that could set a bad precedent: It’s like saying schools cannot post something unless it is in the state code.

The committee then took all reference to posting the values out of the bill.

Lingamfelter said he had undertaken this proposal as a follow-up to his attempt last year to have the Ten Commandments posted in all schools.

The values articulated in the Virginia Constitution including religious freedom and importance of Christian values would have contributed to student character development, he said.

Virginia in 1998 set character education requirements for school boards to “instill in students civic virtues and personal character traits.”

The Ten Commandments bill made it out of the full House 52-46 last year before getting killed 9-6 by the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Staff writer Chris Newman can be reached at (804) 649-8710.

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