Why Politics?

Because they are essential to ensuring a good education for our children AND to improving your job.

Every decision made about our education program, working conditions, salaries, curriculum, licensing and evaluation are made by our elected representatives on a local, state or federal level. One of the ways we can impact those decisions is to vote for candidates who support NEA, VEA and FEA policies and goals for education on all levels. Below are listed political bodies or individuals who make those decisions and their responsibilities.

School Board

Hire and fire teachers

  • Determine working conditions – how many students per class, programs suggested by the superintendent, hours of operation
  • Determine how personnel will be evaluated (suggestions from superintendent)
  • Determine pay grade of personnel

Board of Supervisors, City Councils

  • Have final say about school budgets, which affects all of the above

Virginia General Assembly (Delegates and Senators)

Enacts laws which govern school boards; what policies and laws may be made by Board of Supervisors

  • When passing legislation, listens to advice and opinions from the Virginia State Board of Education and the Virginia Department of Education
  • Establish Standards of Quality (mandated by the state constitution). Standards of Quality determine state money sent to school systems
  • Each side (House and Senate) determines the members of the Education Committee. These committees monitor legislation and have a great deal of influence on which legislation is forwarded on to the General Assembly for enactment


Signs or vetoes legislation about education passed on to him by the General Assembly

  • Works with the General Assembly to enact laws governing education
  • Is a bully pulpit for public education
  • Writes the state budget which determines the Standards of Quality set by the General Assembly
  • Appoints members of the State Board of Education and the leaders of the Virginia Department of Education
  • Appoints the state Superintendent of Education who heads the Board of Education

Virginia State Board of Education

  • Establishes policies and writes regulations based on the laws passed by the General Assembly. These regulations govern how school systems are run—instructional hours, teacher certification, testing policy, graduation requirements

Virginia Department of Education

The ‘police’ of the Board of Education—makes sure school divisions follow the policies and regulations written by the Board of Education and enacted by the General Assembly

  • Keeps data and reports about what’s going on in state education


  • Basically does the same thing as the General Assembly only does it for all the states
  • Provides funding to states so they can carry out the federal mandates (sometimes not enough)
  • Federal legislation assures the minimum standards. States must obey federal mandates or be sanctioned, but state law can determine higher standards than federal legislation
  • Each branch has an Education Committee that does the same thing the committees do for the General Assembly


  • Is a bully pulpit for public education
  • Signs or vetoes laws enacted by Congress
  • Determines policies for the US Department of Education
  • Appoints the Secretary of Education, who heads the Department of Education and carries out the President’s philosophy of education

Department of Education

  • Writes regulations and policies reflecting the legislation Congress enacts
  • Is the ‘police’ making sure states follow through with the laws enacted by Congress—No Child Left Behind, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title IX
  • Keeps data and writes reports about various aspects of public education