Teachers, advocates rally for more education funding in proposed state budget

Updated: Jan. 2, 2020 at 4:46 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Some educators had choice words for the general assembly members at Thursday’s State Budget hearing in at Reynolds Community College.

“Whenever I drive by the construction site of the new general assembly building, I am reminded of the thousands of students and educators across Virginia who are still waiting for our state to invest in us," said Keri Treadway to the Assembly members.

She was one of the dozens expressing why Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed $1.2 billion education dollars wouldn’t cut it.

Jim Livingston with the Virginia Education Association says the total “simply does nothing but account for current practices and inflation. In other words, those are not new dollars going to k-12 education.”

He adds that Virginia ranks 49th on the list of national teachers’ salaries.

“To meet this obligation at the very lowest level, you must staff our schools appropriately, maintain safe school buildings, pay teachers at the national average, and pay support staff a living wage," teacher Derrick Bates said to the Assembly members.

Another teacher, Emma Clark, says the hardships affect the standards she sets for herself as teacher:

“I fail children that I love, that I am devoted to. Every year I fail them, and it’s very hard to stay in this profession – not because of the finances, but because of the emotional toll it takes."

Governor Northam’s spokesperson sent us a statement pointing out his strides towards the education sector – such as the 5% raise last year, on top of the proposed 3%.

The statement adds that the $1.2 billion in the proposed budget accounts for nearly 40% of the overall total.

One of the things mentioned in the statement, that the teachers say they’re grateful for is the increase in funding to the At-Risk Add-On program, which would give additional dollars to low income students.

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