Priorities for K-12 Education
Education is the lynchpin for everything in our region. High-quality educational opportunities allow children and families to thrive, increase economic opportunity, improve health outcomes, bolster civic engagement, and foster a sense of community (1).
Investments in education have been shown to increase graduation rates, reduce adult poverty, and foster economic prosperity for entire communities (2). Yet we've asked schools, teachers, parents, and families to get by with too little for too long. In fact, school divisions in Virginia receive 14% less than school divisions in other states, or approximately $1,900 less per student (3).
Our public school educators make 33% less than comparable college grads (4). It should come as no surprise that there were 3,573 vacant teaching positions statewide last fall (5). We need to invest in recruiting and retaining the educators our children deserve.
Many of the buildings where our children learn are in desperate need of renovation, having not experienced major updates since 1963 — the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The state legislature needs to contribute its fair share to school infrastructure and grant local governments the flexibility they need to raise revenue for renovations.
Parents, teachers, and administrators know that each child is unique, and we need representatives who will support policies that advance this common sense understanding. Parents deserve legislators who will advocate for the diverse needs of our children while supporting teachers and administrators who do so daily.
Career and Technical Education
Career and technical education (CTE) programs in Virginia public schools serve more than 670,000 students (6). We need legislators who will support programs that prepare young people for productive futures while meeting the state's need for well-trained and industry-certified technical workers.
Students who have teachers that believe in them go further in life, and despite negative perceptions, our local school systems are constantly improving (7). Teachers and students alike want more rigorous, meaningful assessments that reward critical thinking and practical skills without the burden of constant testing. We need to prioritize the testing reform plans that have stalled during Governor Youngkin's administration (8), reduce chronic absenteeism (9), and believe in our students.
Investments in education are investments in communities. High-quality school systems advance the economic vitality of the localities they serve, opening the door to increased prosperity for the entire region (10). Whether families choose to enroll their children in public schools or not, the well-being of our society depends on community support for public education.
Expanding Rural Broadband
Reliable internet access is a critical component of student success and community well-being. Over 30% of rural Virginia homes do not have adequate broadband, creating digital divides while putting children and families at a severe disadvantage (11). We need representatives who will prioritize the expansion of rural broadband so our children have every opportunity possible.
Community Listening & Support
Parents, teachers, and families deserve to have their voices heard. School systems function best when they have support from the community, and economies thrive when schools succeed. We need legislators who understand this cyclical relationship and who will follow through on their promise to listen to their constituents while fostering community engagement.
- Center for American Progress
- Northwestern Institute for Policy Research
- Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission
- Virginia Department of Education
- Virginia Department of Education
- Farmville Herald
- Virginia Education Association
- Virginia Mercury
- U.S. Department of Education
- Virginia Department of Health