Local Commentary

Delegate Jim Scott’s Richmond Report

From Galax to Nashville and Next, Nashville.

From Galax to Nashville

Last week ended with a Scott family visit to the 71st Annual Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, Virginia.

As the only member of the General Assembly born in Galax, I look forward to this annual pilgrimage to the week-long celebration of folk and country music.  Organized by the Galax Moose Lodge, it brings 40,000+ people to a small city in the in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia.

The Convention is held on the Galax Fairgrounds, formerly the home site of the defunct Galax Leafs minor league baseball team, is filled with cars and RV’s. Often the Convention gives me an opportunity to catch up with people I remember from childhood.

Like much of the rest of Virginia, Galax is changing. It is becoming more diverse with an increasing percentage of Hispanic workers and their families.  

Approximately 2000 contestants from many parts of the U.S. competed in the Fiddlers’ Convention for very modest prizes.  Bands, banjo, dobro, guitar players and fiddlers and singers and dancers have 2 ½ minutes convince judges of their merit on Friday and Saturday

This year Governor Kaine, Senator Allen, 15 members of the General Assembly, and former Governor Linwood Holton attended Saturday festivities, starting with a barbecue dinner in the city park next door.

If you have never been to Galax during the second week in August, I highly recommend it. But you must call several months ahead to reserve lodging.

And bring lawn chairs and sweaters.

Next, Nashville.

After a delightful stay in Galax, a few of us journeyed to Nashville, Tennessee for the Annual Meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). NCSL is the national voice of state legislators.  Virginia has long been an active and leading participant.  This year Susan Clarke Scharr serves as President of the Senate Clerks Association.

Along with Delegate Adam Ebbin, I was pleased to be appointed by the Speaker to serve on the NCSL Education Policy Committee.  With the 2007 expiration of the Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, NCSL will have an opportunity to shape the debate and influence the structure of the new legislation.   I look forward to helping craft policy positions that will aid states in gaining a stronger role in the development of legislation that will aid, not hinder, states’ critical role in public education.  

Many states are desperate for greater flexibility in using Federal education dollars to improve public education, rather than increasing unfunded mandates. Unfortunately, most states worry that NCLB will repeat the mistakes of Federal Aid for Special Education requirements.  Promised 40% of the costs, states have not received half that amount. More later.