CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Democratic State Senator Jennifer McClellan, who is running for governor, is calling for a $2.3 billion investment into Virginia’s schools.
McClellan says it’s the minimum amount needed to provide a high-quality public education. She rolled out her K-12 education plan and says she would pay for it by reprioritizing the budget to put education as a bigger priority and look for federal funding opportunities.
McClellan plan would increase teacher salaries to an average of $65,000, which she says is $4,300 more than the national average.
”We really need to do our best to invest in those people that are shaping the future of our children and our society,” she said.
Raising teacher pay is also about retention. She says it will help recruit and retain strong educators.
“They can go to the private sector and get paid more. They come out of school with a lot of debt, they don’t get paid enough to pay that debt off, and it’s really pushing a lot of people out of the workforce,” McClellan said.
Another element to her plan is school lunches. McClellan says she would connect Virginia farmers to Virginia schools to provide fresh, local ingredients.
“It is hard to learn when you’re hungry. It is hard to learn when you’re not healthy. So, if we’re going to meet our student’s needs that includes their food needs and many students get two of their three meals a day in the school building,” she said.
McClellan says she would update the profile of a Virginia graduate, a set of criteria each graduate is expected to achieve, and redesign the K-12 curriculum.
“Teaching them critical thinking skills, teaching them an accurate picture of who we are as a commonwealth and how we got here, and meeting their needs where they are,” she said.
This plan is just the start, she will be releasing more in the coming months.
“This is one of three plans that I have. When I look at the education system, I look at the full continuum, from early childhood, really birth, to career, and I look at our education workforce pipeline,”McClellan said.