Hey Virginia Delegates and Senators!
How do you assure our future, improve the welfare of our society or even “Make American Great Again” when you do not fully fund the education of our children? Our children and their development are our future, right?
So, at a time when fewer people nationally are entering the teaching profession and more are leaving it than before — both which contribute to a teacher shortage crisis — how do you justify not helping to make the job more attractive? Unless you take dramatic steps now, the experience of having our students taught by the best and brightest will wither away. As a result, we run the risk of thrusting ill prepared children into a society starved for the knowledgeable and skilled.
Have you realized the mid-$50,000 average Virginia teacher’s salary is at least 16 percent less than the national average teacher salary? Due to higher salaries in urban areas, the disparity is likely a lot larger in rural communities. Also, please recall average teacher salaries nationwide are part of the reason nationwide teacher preparation school enrollment is down 30 percent or so, and teachers are leaving existing jobs at an increased rate. It is because the job is less attractive than alternatives. So here we are in Virginia, paying 16 percent less than what is losing teachers nationwide.
If we want Virginia’s youths to have any edge, this problem needs a fix, fast. This profession should attract talented people. As one philosopher quipped, “Teaching is the one profession that makes all other professions possible.”
What a difference an increase in commonwealth support for our schools could make. A good start would be to return the $800,000,000 (number adjusted for inflation) in funds the legislature cut 10 years ago. That could get us back close to Constitutionally required funding. This would encourage qualified teachers to stay and more to come. It could stimulate teacher-prep enrollment. It could begin to give Virginia youth the chance to mold a brighter future in an ever-more-competitive world.
What do we as Americans value most, if not our children's future successes? So, why skimp? Why wait? To hear the news, there is lots of money to do it with. Here is the chance to invest in our future; the furtherance of our way of life and happy successes for our children.
What are you waiting for?