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"And We're Not Paying Them for That" Educators Flock to Richmond Requesting More Funding, Better Pay

Michael Pope

Educators from across Virginia were in Richmond Monday, pressing lawmakers to fully fund education this year.

Hundreds of educators packed Capitol Square for a massive rally, saying they’ve made do with too little for too long. Teachers say they are often forced to take a second or a third job just to make ends meet, then pay for school supplies out of their own pockets because there’s no money in the budget.

Elizabeth Wimmer is a special education teacher in Stafford County, and she says lawmakers need to make an investment. 

“Having enough teachers for smaller class sizes, funding counselors so we can address children with mental-health needs," Wimmer says. She continues, "improving preschool services and early intervention services.”

David Bowman is a special education teacher in Pulaski County, and he’s concerned about the teacher shortage. 

“And the reason we’re not getting them is because we’re not funding those positions. People are not going into special education. They’re not going into education period," Bowman explains. "And special educators have a lot more on their plate as far as case management and things like that. And we’re not paying them for that.”

Fully funding Virginia schools could cost as much as $950 million on top of what the state already pays. That’s the request from the Virginia Board of Education, and lawmakers will have to balance that request along with all the other requests for funding as they work towards balancing the books at the end of this year’s session.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.