Legislative Advocacy

VSRA is committed to advocating for literacy issues with Virginia’s General Assembly each year. Troilen Seward serves as VSRA’s Legislative Advocate on these issues.

News from the VSRA Legislative Issues Committee


Sue Hirsh, Chair
Marilyn Schempf, Co-Chair



What is Legislative Advocacy?

Legislative advocacy refers to the introduction, enactment, or modification of legislation. The most common means of legislative advocacy is direct lobbying which entails contacting a legislator, sharing your views on an issue, and asking him/her to vote a specific way on a bill. This can be done with a phone call or letter or by a meeting with the legislator or staff person.

Why advocacy?

One of the most important aspects of our system of government is that it is representative – those who make our laws represent us. They can best represent us if they know what we are thinking.

Does Advocacy Work?

Advocacy does make a difference. Hearing from individual constituents can influence a legislator’s decision on an issue.

What You Can Do?

  • Write your legislator. Handwritten or typed, mailed or electronic are acceptable ways to communicate with legislators. Lead or participate in local council literacy advocacy efforts.
  • Visit your legislator. A face-to-face visit with an elected official or his/her staff is the most influential form of advocacy. Although possibly time consuming, it can be fun, interesting and rewarding. Group visits to legislators are particularly effective and increase the chances of getting an appointment, so plan on joining VSRA in Richmond for Legislative Day. In addition to meeting with legislators, the day may include sitting in on an education committee meeting. Watch for more details – date and focus.

When is the Best Time?

Any time is a good time to communicate with your legislator.

Do You Know Who Represents You?

Go to: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/ and click on: Who is my Legislator?

 Presented at the VSRA Leadership Team Meeting on September 12, 2015




The Virginia State Reading Association selected Senator John Miller as the recipient of its prestigious “Friend of Literacy Award” for 2014- 2015. The award was presented to him at the annual conference March 12, 2015 in Richmond. His outstanding leadership for literacy in the General Assembly has resulted in positive steps that give students more opportunity for reading instruction and teachers more input into the standards. A majority in the Senate handily supported his SOL Reform bill a few years before the House was ready to accept it. Each year Senator Miller introduced a variation of the bill and worked behind-the-scenes with both parties to help other legislators understand the meaning of the changes. This effort required patience and commitment. Although it took several years, his tenacity paid off as the SOL reform bill was passed. As a result there are fewer assessments and more time for instruction. He was also instrumental in giving VSRA a seat on the Innovation Committee. Senator Miller is truly a champion of literacy.

Nominations for the 2016 award will be accepted until October 17, 2015. The approved guidelines state the following:

  • The candidate is an individual or entity who has made a significant contribution to impact literacy in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • The recipient is most likely, but not limited to, an appointed or elected official.
  • The award is granted based on the individual’s or entity’s contributions to literacy regardless of political affiliation.
  • The award shall be given only when there is an outstanding candidate. It does not have to be given each year.


Co-Chairs:                                                                                Legislative Advocate:

Sue Hirsh and Marilyn Schempf                                                        Troilen Seward

Past Legislative news:

Big News from the 2014 General Assembly Session — SOL Innovation Committee
Governor McAuliffe Announces Next Steps in SOL Reform Process
The legislation that will reduce the number of tests in grades 3-8 includes a new section in the Code of Virginia (22.1-253.13:10) that establishes the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee, under the direction of the Secretary of Education, shall periodically make recommendations to the Board of Education and the General Assembly on SOL assessments, authentic individual student growth measures, alignment between the SOL and assessments and the School Performance Report Card and ideas on innovative teaching in the classroom. The BIG NEWS is VSRA has been written in as one of the groups to be included in this very important group. Our name is now actually in the Code.

“Innovation and accountability are critical components in building a public education system that meets the demands of a 21st Century economy,” Governor McAuliffe said. “The challenge for the SOL Innovation Committee will be to chart a course for reform that builds on the strengths of the current SOL system while creating more room for the rich, creative and innovative learning experiences that will prepare all Virginia students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in a global economy.”

The SOL Innovation Committee also will include four members of the House of Delegates appointed by Speaker of the House William J. Howell and two members of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules on the recommendation of Senate Committee on Education and Health Chairman L. Louise Lucas. Secretary Holton, Board of Education President Christian N. Braunlich (or his designee) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Staples will serve as ex-officio members of the committee.
The reform legislation signed into law last month by Governor McAuliffe directs the SOL Innovation Committee to take a comprehensive look at the SOL assessments — including the computer adaptive tests now being piloted by the Virginia Department of Education — and related accountability and instructional issues and make recommendations to the Board of Education and General Assembly.

Choose from the links below to read past Legislative Updates

2014 End-of-Year Legislative Report

2013 End-of-Year Legislative Report

2012 End-of-Year Legislative Report

2011 End-of-Year Legislative Report