The Big Priority

Ronnie knows that nearly everything begins and ends with education, and this is driven home to him every time he steps into a classroom.  This is why he has decided to make education the centerpiece of his campaign. Certainly, there are other issues that he is passionate about: the environment, healthcare, and voter rights to name a few.  For more about those issues, you can click on. But, first and foremost, his work in Richmond is grounded in the need to strengthen our educational system.

 

With this in mind, Ronnie will fight for:

 

Universal Pre-K.  

From an empirical perspective, it makes sense: studies show how Universal Pre-K pays for itself over time, due to increased economic production and a decrease in penal spending.  However, more than that, it is just the right thing to do for children and families. It helps with childcare, and better readies children for the learning that will take place over the rest of their lives.

 

A complete review and, if necessary reworking, of SOL tests.  

There is a reason that most teachers will tell you that they hate SOL’s, and the reason is obvious to those who are in education: a test does little to demonstrate knowledge or mastery, especially when it comes to skill development.  A more qualitative or portfolio-based system is more equitable and, ultimately, accurate.

 

Universal Background Checks.  

When I sit down and talk with students, many describe how they are scared to go to school.  Yes, for some the issue is bullying, and that is an issue. But, more than that, students articulate how they are afraid of a mass shooting.  We need universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole. This priority makes sense for gun owners, and it makes sense for students.

 

Smaller Classroom Sizes.  

This makes sense from a learning perspective.  Research shows that, even with a master teacher (which takes a minimum of ten years to become), any class over 25 students will suffer a decrease in educational outcomes.  More than this, however, teachers are often the front line for students’ social and emotional issues, performing a kind of triage. Study after study shows how smaller class sizes lead to stronger bonds between teacher and student, which leads to greater psychological safety for the student. As a bonus, this bond also increases learning outcomes.

 

An investment in counselors.

Speaking to children and those who work with children, it becomes clear that there is a kind of mental health crisis on our hands.  While teachers can provide triage, we need more professionals at schools in order to provide the kind of care that teachers are not trained to provide.

Implementing these changes will lead to a more robust, economically dynamic society while at the same time making us a fairer and more just society.

 

All Issues

Education

Education is an investment in our economic future, yes, but it is also so much more than that.  It is also an investment in our children as citizens and human beings. Our schools can prepare students for an uncertain, competitive economic future while at the same time treating them as more than a score on a test.

As your state senator, Ronnie will:

  • fight for universal pre-K to help level the educational playing field
  • work to reduce classroom size; it is near impossible for students to learn and teachers to teach is classes larger than 25
  • fight to give our teachers the pay they deserve and the resources they need
  • continue to develop a vibrant community college system
  • review our SOL testing system.  Ronnie recognizes that test performance is not a measure of merit, but rather exposure to content, preparation for the idiosyncrasies of the test, and practice on that test
 

The Environment

Ronnie is a conservationist who believes in science and recognizes that climate change is a clear and present danger to our communities and our world.  He rejects the false choice of choosing between growing the economy and protecting our planet; green jobs are good jobs. However, he also realizes that there are no overnight fixes to our environmental situation.  Yes, we need to focus on short-term stop gaps, but we also need to work on long-term solutions, especially in regards to energy, transportation, and land use.

As your state senator, Ronnie will:

  • encourage investment in renewable energy and use of it, both on a large scale, and also by individual homeowners and businesses
  • focus on smart growth and land use through judicious zoning policies that reduce our impact on the environment
  • demand a stream-by-stream analysis before new pipelines are laid through the state
  • fight for secure and efficient electricity distribution
  • work to update our transportation infrastructure
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Healthcare

Healthcare is a basic human right; it is not a privilege for those who can afford it.  This year, Virginia became the 33rd state to pass Medicaid expansion. This is an excellent start, but we can do so much more.  Currently, our healthcare system still fails to ensure that all of our citizens have access to the medical care they need, including dental and mental health coverage.  Moreover, it is also excessively expensive.

As your state senator, Ronnie will:

  • fight to expand Medicaid adult dental services beyond their current emergency-only status
  • fight to expand Medicaid adult services to cover care in an institution for the treatment of mental disorders
  • work to include alcohol and drug abuse therapy in Medicaid plans
  • work to bring down the costs of prescription drugs
 

The Economy

Ronnie believes in a fair and just economy that works for everybody, one that pays as much attention to Main Street as it does to Wall Street.  He also knows that some of the smartest economic investments that we can make are those in our education system and in our infrastructure.

As your state senator, Ronnie will:

  • encourage enterprise through providing tax incentives to local small businesses
  • foster a smart regulatory environment that reduces red tape
  • work to reduce barriers to entering the economy by investing in education, jobs programs, and worker retraining
  • work to establish a public-private partnership for rural broadband
  • focus on making our area attractive and affordable to young people so that our children can choose to stay and raise families in the 27th
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Equality & Justice

It is the right of every American to worship, speak, vote, and love as they please.  Virginia should be an example as a welcoming and inclusive place to live, work, and visit.  Moreover, it should be a place that treats each human life--no matter what that person’s lot in life--as valuable.

As your state Senator, Ronnie will:

  • fight to make Virginia the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment
  • work to interrupt the school to prison pipeline
  • support legislation and policies that add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in workplace, housing, and public accommodations
 

Voter Rights

We live in a democracy, and in democracies, voting should be easy, not hard.  It is the privilege of every citizen of the Commonwealth to make their voice heard at the ballot box.  

 

As your state senator, Ronnie will:

  • work for early voting and no-excuse absentee voting
  • fight against discriminatory voter ID laws
  • fight against voter purges from the rolls before elections
  • consider bold proposals that are shown to increase turnout, such as vote-by-mail and making election day a holiday
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Gun Safety

Ronnie supports the 2nd Amendment.  To him, this means supporting responsible firearm ownership of reasonable firearms, along with common-sense gun laws that keep weapons out of the hands of those who wish to do harm.  

 

As you state senator, Ronnie will:

  • support universal background checks, including closing the gun show and private sale loopholes
  • fight to improve our mental health system in the Commonwealth.  It should be easy for those in need to get help, not weapons
  • work to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers
  • fight to ban bump stocks
  • increase gun safety programs, especially when it comes to in-home firearm storage
  • explore robust firearm training safety programs, including proper storage