Newly elected state Del. Rob Krupicka is headed to Richmond next week with a focus on education.
“The bulk of my bills deal with education issues and a lot of my education concepts are informed by my work on the Board of Education and the relationships I built from that,” Krupicka, a Democrat, told Patch editors last month in an interview at Del Ray’s St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.
Krupicka served on the state Board of Education since 2009 and was a strong advocate for early childhood education and increasing math and science opportunities in the commonwealth. He stepped down from that role when elected to the General Assembly.
The board work “also informs how I think about drafting bills in the sense that I’m not trying to draft education policy that is so prescriptive that it eliminates the board’s ability to be thoughtful and adaptive to changes that may happen,” he said.
One of the flagship bills he plans to introduce focuses on residency-based teacher training, allowing schools to hire qualified people right out of school to become teachers.
In his proposal, a teacher would go through a regulated training process lasting about eight weeks and then is put to work in a school district. While working, they continue to go through the education process.
“Someone who wants to be a teacher can be put to work faster and it could be especially good for hard-to-staff teaching categories like English as a Second Language, science and math where school districts are desperate for teachers,” he said.
The freshman delegate noted that the approach wouldn’t be a right fit for every school district or every teacher and must have certain quality controls, but might make sense for someone who is retiring from an engineering firm and financially can’t wait two years to get a teaching certification, for example.
“I’m a big believer in how important teaching is,” he said “A teacher is the biggest ingredient in success in schools. This bill broadens the base of candidates.”
Krupicka also plans to offer a measure that would address alleviating school crowding by offering tax credits to commercial entities that allow schools to use their space for certain educational uses.
And he will address school safety issues, reviewing whether there should be clearer safety guidelines or minimum safety best practices as well as looking at mental health issues, he said, reflecting on the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
“There are obvious opportunities for (Virginia) to do more,” he said.
Krupicka acknowledged that it can be a tough haul for a new legislator in Richmond.
“I’m trying to put forward bills that have a really good economic and evidence-based background behind them. In doing so, hopefully we can create new opportunities to improve our education system,” he said. “I’m not foolish to believe everything is going to get passed and I’m a freshman. I’m just trying to be thorough in what I put forward.”
The state delegate for the 45th House District, which includes the city of Alexandria and parts of Fairfax and Arlington counties, has posted a 2013 legislative survey on his website to gather input from constituents.
Del Ray Patch Editor Drew Hansen contributed to this story.
What do you think of Krupicka's agenda for 2013? What would you like to see him do in his first session? Tell us in the comments.