As a graduate of Washington County, Virginia public schools, Israel understands the importance of public education in our region. Public schools will always face challenges, but Virginia still manages to produce a solid and successful school system. Schools is our region tend to perform particularly well in comparison to other parts of the Commonwealth. Delegate O’Quinn takes time to visit every public school across the entire Fifth District each school year.
Israel advocates for Southwest Virginia students and teachers in the Virginia House of Delegates. A great education begins with great teachers, which is why we must recruit and retain highly qualified and talented educators. In order to attract and retain those teachers, we must continue to adequately compensate our teachers and professional staff members. Even though times can sometimes be tight, education must remain one of our top priorities. Israel wants to see our students succeed and that success begins in our classrooms. He knows that our education system is the building block for everything else we do. Israel is a proponent of education at all levels from early childhood education to K-12, college and graduate studies. Investing in today’s children—and tomorrow’s workforce—is critical when planning for a future of continued economic growth.
Israel has also been a leader in the House of Delegates with regard to SOL testing. He believes our students should be more focused on critical thinking, problem solving and project-based learning rather than memorizing answers for a multiple choice test. Israel helped lead efforts to reduce the number of SOL tests in grades 4 through 8 and continues to look for ways to trim back unnecessary and burdensome tests.
Equally important is an educational focus on offering technical skills and workforce training to Virginians. He supports Career and Technical Education (CTE) for our interested high schools students. For those seeking to tackle a second career, workforce retraining is also vital. Through partnerships with local community colleges and workforce development programs, we can train individuals in highly-technical skills, making them desirable employees. These programs are also instrumental resources in retraining workers who have been laid off or displaced. In addition, we can work with local four-year colleges to craft educational paths to better equip students with the knowledge and training that quality employers consider valuable. This is a partnership for success for all involved.
Finally, Israel was a member of the House Select Committee on School Safety. This was a committee convened by the Speaker of the House to look at every aspect of our children’s safety on school grounds. The committee met multiple times across Virginia, and Delegate O’Quinn also toured 17 schools across our region to look at their specific security issues. The committee made multiple recommendations and approximately a dozen bills were passed during the 2019 General Assembly session along with an additional $12 million for school resource officers and security infrastructure.