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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Association

The Instructional Items
VEA Members are Looking
For in Richmond in 2009

As our elected representatives gear up for the 2009 session of the General Assembly, here are some of the instructional issues that VEA members have made a priority for legislators to consider:

Expand initiatives designed to raise high school completion rates. Boosting the commonwealth’s high school graduation rates will not only help more of our citizens lead more fulfilling lives, it will also go a long way toward increasing future productivity and economic strength, while reducing costs in areas such as prisons and welfare. To help meet those objectives, VEA will support legislation to:

• Increase funding for Governor Kaine’s Virginia Preschool Initiative
• Stimulate STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education programs
• Increase teacher participation in the making of instructional decisions
• Reduce class sizes
• Strengthen dropout prevention programs
• Increase salaries for education professionals and expand existing scholarship loan programs

Amend the state budget to support funding for teachers who earn national board certification. Earning certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an extremely rigorous and prestigious credential for a K-12 teacher, the benefits of which extend to the teacher’s students and school divisions. Because of this the state has, in the past, financially rewarded teachers who earn the certification and provided financial assistance to teachers going through the expensive certification process. In 2009, VEA will seek budget amendments to:

• Provide funding for NBPTS salary supplements (Teachers currently receive a $5,000 stipend for the first year after earning certification and $2,500 per year for the life of the certificate.)

• Restore the $75,000 that had been allocated for pay for grants to teachers during the certification process.

Provide elementary school teachers with an average of 30 minutes per day of planning time during the students’ school week. Right now, teachers in middle and high schools have planning time during the school day, something that every teacher needs. Elementary school teachers do not.

VEA believes that the General Assembly should require that teachers at all levels be guaranteed a daily period within the student day, or an extended period of time one or more days per week, not counting travel time and free of other duties, for the purpose of instructional planning.

Support full funding of the Standards of Quality, including revisions proposed by the Virginia Board of Education. The SOQs, essentially, are what’s required for schools in the commonwealth to meet minimum academic performance measurements, and define what every school division must provide—at least—for its students. Despite the fact that Virginia ranks 33rd in the nation in per-pupil aid provided by the state, the 2008 General Assembly still cut SOQ funding by just over $20.3 million, and failed to fund requests from the Board of Education that would have made the SOQs more reflective of the true costs of a high-quality education.

VEA, recognizing that in the current economic situation there will be pressure to further erode SOQ funding, will resist those efforts and fight for more equitable budget allocations.

Oppose the use of vouchers or tuition tax credits. Vouchers and tuition tax credits both remove much-needed dollars from public schools, and studies done in other states show that the primary beneficiaries of such programs were students from wealthier families. At a time when our state ranks so low in funding, and resource inequities abound, it makes no sense to siphon more money away from our public schools.



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