Virginia Education Association, or VEA, is hoping to influence the General Assembly’s allocations in the state budget through a member lobbying and advertising campaign.
In a recent article on its website, VEA points out that in per-pupil spending, Virginia is currently 41st in the nation, a heavy decline since previous years. In fact, when adjusted to account for inflation, alarmingly, Virginia’s school funding has “declined 14.5 percent [since] 2009 . . .”
This critical shortage translates to a decline in teacher pay as well. Currently, Virginia teachers earn $6,759 under the national average, which is important to note because, “At one time, Virginia had climbed to within a few hundred dollars of the national average” (VEA). In fact, the organization indicates that Virginia is currently the “worst in the nation in its measure of ‘wage competitiveness.’”
The article further cites data from a November 2015 report by The Commonwealth Institute to demonstrate that, despite a consistent increase in student populations, 11,000 positions (teachers, instructional staff, and support staff) have either been eliminated or remain unfilled.
VEA is currently “advertising on radio, cable TV, and online properties calling attention to the Commonwealth’s underfunding of schools and urging Virginians to press their representatives to make public education a funding priority.”