Teachers protest against lawmakers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a sea of black at many schools throughout the Commonwealth. Many teachers say they're protesting the recent budget cut discussions in the General Assembly.

They say they're using today as a non-political effort to let state leaders know how much those budget cuts could affect a quality public education.

Many teachers are participating in the silent protest because they want to show lawmaker how concerned they are about the education budget and their own job security.

Governor Bob McDonnell wants to put all public school teachers on three year contracts. Many say they're not happy about it. Right now, they're on a tenure-type system. They're worried this new plan could make it easier to fire teachers.

"The continuing contract issue felt personal and an attack on the teaching profession," said Dr. Kitty Boitnott with the Virginia Education Association. She's wearing black to symbolize the passing of an education system that she says is receiving less money each year.

"It look's like every year we're being cut around $1.2 billion each year and that's a problem we're having," said Health and P.E. Teacher Wayde Ellegood.

He says he doesn't have the money to purchase materials or equipment for his students. Many teachers say he's not alone.

"Our teachers are being asked to do more and more with less and less, and that's the bigger issue," said Dr. Boitnott.

However, the Governor's office says it's increasing state funding for K-12 schools by nearly half a million dollars over the next two years with a focus on training and recruiting teachers, preparing students for college, and more money for teacher retirement.

"If we lose that benefit, it will be hard to find good teachers because they may too look at the long-term and may not want to be part of the education process," said Ellegood.

The Governor's office says this proposal is to simply award teachers for their success and develop those who need improvement.

"The house passed a similar proposal. Now it's up to senate leaders. It could be a while until they come up with some sort of agreement."

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.