RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia teachers are marching to pressure state lawmakers for pay raises and other increases in school funding.
Thousands of teachers and supporters from around Virginia rallied at the state Capitol on Monday to protest what they're calling unfairly low pay and inadequate education spending.
The Virginia Education Association hosted the rally, which also focuses on hiring more school counselors. Those attending include Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Virginia’s Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson.
The group is using the hashtag #Red4Ed to help spread its message on social media.
“Legislators will hear the roars of loud and proud educators from across the Commonwealth standing up, speaking out, and demanding change,” VEA posted on Facebook this weekend.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed a pay raise among other spending measures, saying Virginia's teacher pay lags behind the national average and it's getting harder to recruit and retain quality teachers.
Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled General Assembly say they too support increased education spending.
As the rally went on outside, the House of Delegates sent out a press release saying its budget will include a raise for public school teachers.
Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman Steve Landes announced in a speech on Monday that the budget, to be released on Sunday, will include a five percent pay raise without raising taxes on Virginia residents.
“Providing teacher pay raises does not have to come with a tax on the middle class attached to it,” said Delegate Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), who is the chairman of the committee.
Jones also says this will be the fourth teacher pay raise in the last six years.
Landes says it is due to teachers that Virginia's students consistently outperform their peers across the country on standardized tests, college admissions and graduation rates.
“To maintain that success, we must ensure our teachers are fairly compensated and know the hard work they do each and every day is greatly appreciated," said Delegate Landes (R-Augusta)
Virginia's teachers are joining a national movement calling for more education spending that began last spring in West Virginia and scored a major victory last week after a teachers' strike in Los Angeles.