Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine spoke to the Spartan Echo on current issues relevant to education nationwide. Senator Kaine touched on many topics including his current works in the U.S. Senate, as well as campus safety, sexual assaults, and upcoming revisions to the No Child Left Behind Act.
The senate is expected to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, which went through the House of Representatives and is a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law. If passed it would give school districts the authority to determine how standardized testing performance would be used to assess teacher performance and student retention. It will also prohibit the federal government from interfering in state and local decisions on education.
Studies show that under the current NCLB law black student performance was lower than the performance of white students and that number was higher for black students who attended schools with a large number of lower income families. However, the performance gap between Hispanic students and white students wasn’t as high.
“Too much of K-12 education is focused on standardized testing. You shouldn’t be subjected to a lesser education due to the zip code you live in. Most schools did not have a core curriculum established prior to the first No Child Left Behind Law,” said Senator Kaine.
Senator Kaine also discussed his stance on sexual assaults on college campuses. He discussed another bill that will be included with the ESSA, and that is the Teach Safe Relationships Act. This bill would encourage schools to use Title IV federal funding to teach safe relationship behavior among students. Also, Sen. Kaine believes that teaching these behaviors will keep students from growing up unprepared for some situations that they may face in college, like sexual assault and dating violence.
“Between the ages of 16-24 is the average age of most victims and those who commit sexual crimes. In high school sexual assault is usually covered with many other issues along the lines of not maxing out your credit cards, or not letting your grades fall. Sex education in high school is more about sexual reproduction than anything else,” said Senator Kaine.
Kaine said he met with students at the University of Virginia and many students said that they never were taught about sexual assault until after they got to college. Students also asked if he believed that mental health was connected to sexual assaults.
“The answer is yes, there are some connects between mental health and sexual assaults. Alcohol use is closely connected to these sexual assaults. This is what makes sexual assaults so complicated, and this is why colleges shouldn’t investigate sexual assault cases. Many students don’t feel comfortable with law enforcement. There are often mental issues involved, and this may be the result of students being away from home for the first time, as well as age.”