September 12, 2013
I hope your school year is off to a great start! It is saddening to know that once again you are doing more with less. As we look to the General Assembly session ahead, one thing we are going to have to do is repair the recessionary damage to our schools.
We are framing the case for presentation to the press and the politicians. Our numbers cruncher, Carol Donohue, has been gathering the facts needed to make our case. A few really jumped out from the page, as I looked over her work. We have 1,693 fewer teachers, 3,273 fewer support personnel, and 19,519 more students than we had in 2008-09. Ouch!
Then, today, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities came out with a study, Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession, a must-read for education advocates. Virginia (Surprise, surprise!) doesn't stack up so well. We are one of 13 states where per-student, inflation-adjusted spending remains more than 10% lower than it was in 2008. In fact, by this measure we are spending $695 less per student than in 2008.
This report concludes with a message that we should be echoing across Virginia: "At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, large cuts in funding for basic education undermine a crucial building block for future prosperity." We'll substitute "Virginia" for "the nation" as we present our message, and you can substitute your locality for "the nation" when you advocate for education on the local level. It's an important message.
This leads me to the fact that what happens in November will decide how successful we will be as we work to repair the damage in the 2014 General Assembly session. If we elect friends of public education from both parties, we'll advance a pro-public education agenda.
What are some very easy things you can do?
First, take the pledge to vote: www.veanea.org/PledgetoVote.
Urge your colleagues to take the pledge!
Bookmark the VEA elections web site and keep up with which candidates are recommended and keep up with election events: www.veaelection2013.com.
Make sure you and your colleagues are registered to vote. The registration deadline is October 15, and you can now register online: www.vote.virginia.gov.
You can also update your address on this site.
Finally, let me share an editorial with you that appeared recently in the Roanoke Times: Aiming higher for higher education. (inserted by webmaster)
Again, I hope your year is off to a great start.