Fund Our Future Rally 

Fighting for Virginia's Education

On January 27, 2020, Richmond Public Schools are closed. And why is that?

 

After numerous General Assembly decisions made at the expense of education in Virginia, teachers have taken a stand and are attending the “Fund Our Future” rally by the Virginia Education Association.

What is the Rally Advocating For?

The rally is pushing for multiple changes to be made for Virginia’s schools, as the issues do not rest under one single topic.

 

Many of what the rally is advocating for are new Standards of Quality (SOQs) which are added in and amended to, as requested by the Virginia Board of Education. However, for these SOQs to be put in place, the General Assembly must agree to them.

More Funding for Better Schools

After the 2008 - 2009 school year, the state has cut back on K-12 funding consistently. As seen on this graph, although small increases to funding has been made, the funding for Virginia schools remains at pre-recession levels, which is not acceptable.

The Board is also proposing means to put class size reduction money, to ensure that class sizes remain at a level that is best for students’ learning.

Proper Pay for Virginia’s Teachers and Educators

The Rally is also pushing more Virginia’s educators to have better pay, so that their salaries reach at least the national average, and all support staffers receive a living wage.

Another SOQ regards  at-risk add-on funding, which is money distributed for general use by school districts with high concentrations of students on free and reduced lunch. This money can be used for staff, hiring/retention incentives, and for support staff, like nurses.

 

One major standard change the board wanted to move under the at-risk add on was an effort to keep experienced teachers in high-poverty schools.

 

The proposal would make it standard practice to pay teachers with five or more years of experience $6,000-$12,000 extra a year if they teach at a school with at least 70 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch.

 

The board also wants to reaffirm its 2016 recommendation to lift the support cap. The cap limits how many school staff — custodians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and others — the state will pay for. Lawmakers put it in place during the recession. It would be a $371 million annual undertaking. As a starting step, one new standard would move nurses, school social workers and psychologists into a new staffing category to remove them from the state’s decade-old support staff cap, so that incremental change can be made.

Other Points of Frustration

The rally is also pushing more collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is the negotiation of wages and other conditions of employment by an organized body of employees. Currently, Virginia is one of only three states that ban public employees from this practice. The rally is pushing for the bill HB 582, introduced by Delegate Guzman in the 2020 General Assembly Session, which would create the Public Employee Relations Board, in which public employers and employee organizations that are exclusive bargaining representatives meet at reasonable times to negotiate in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

With all the issues that Virginia educators and schools deal with, teachers and staff are finally taking a stand and advocating for their students’ education, and thus, their future.

Further Resources