As the Virginia Senate tries to pass a budget, the Virginia Education Association (VEA) is planning rallies around the state on Saturday in support of public education, including a â€œwakeâ€ in Charlottesville.
The teachers association is irate over K-12 education funding and â€œbills that would slash retirement benefits and threaten teachersâ€™ job security.â€
At a Charlottesville wake, participants say they will “mourn the attacks on public education and celebrate educators who made a difference in their lives.” Other rallies will be held in Virginia Beach and Roanoke.
The Senate is considering a teacher contract and evaluation overhaul backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell. The measure would phase out a tenure-like system for three-year term contracts and make it easier for schools to dismiss teachers.
“After 216 years, Public Education is being destroyed by lack of funding, unfunded mandates, high stakes testing, an underfunded retirement system, and loss of continuing contracts,” VEA said in a statement. “Left to mourn will be over-crowded classrooms, forgotten students, demoralized educators, and undervalued support personnel.”
Supporting the teachers’ contentions are many Democrats in the General Assembly, including Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington, Fairfax), who said earlier this week that Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed budget “is not putting Virginiaâ€™s children and families first. I suggest to you that it is compromising our future.â€
â€œIn these past five years, education funding in Virginia has been continually reduced, school enrollment is up, and we are seeing the consequences. In 2007, only two states had a smaller class size than Virginia,â€ Favola said. â€œToday, 40 states have smaller class sizes. The Dept. of Education says that class size is one of the most important factors in student outcome.â€