Valley teacher: Virginia governor's $1.2 billion for education falls short

Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 4:33 PM EST
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Some educators are frustrated with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's proposed $1.2 billion education budget and said the funding just will not cut it.

On Thursday, hundreds of teachers and education advocates gathered at budget hearings across Virginia to voice their concerns.

Kathy Beery, a local member of Virginia Educators United, was among those teachers in Richmond. She calls the budget a "slap in the face."

"It's not new money. It's just adjusting to the number of kids we have, and we'd do that anyway," Beery said. "The new money he's proposing is not early enough."

In a press release, Northam said his budget was one of the largest new investments in education in the state, ever. The proposal includes a 50 percent increase to help at-risk students and a three percent salary increase for teachers over the next two years.

Education advocates like Beery said that money will be absorbed by inflation and more students and essentially will cause teachers to take a pay cut.

"I don't understand why this is something that the legislators will not deal with," said Beery. "They want highly-qualified, experienced teachers, yet all that they've been doing, is the exact opposite."

According to Virginia Educators United, Virginia ranks 34 in the nation in teacher pay. The organization said teacher pay would need to increase by 20 percent to be on track with the national average.

"Teachers are really hurting," said Beery. "Most teachers work second and third jobs. We just want to be able to make a living and take care of our own families."

Beery said she hopes the finger pointing will stop and change will come during the upcoming general assembly session.