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Educators travel to Richmond to stand up for public education

Sam Eure of the York Education Association leaned forward on the couch in Senator John Miller’s fourth-floor Richmond office and earnestly explained that while Virginia is the eighth wealthiest state in the country, the Commonwealth still only ranks 31st in teacher pay.

“We understand financial constraints,” said Eure, who was shortly thereafter joined by colleagues from Poquoson and Williamsburg, “but we can do better.”

Such conversations were happening all over the General Assembly Building in Richmond as VEA members, undeterred by a morning dose of freezing rain, brought their message to legislators Monday for VEA Lobby Day.

VEA Vice President Dominic Melito joined a delegation of Virginia Beach members in a meeting with Delegate Barry Knight, and made the case for Association-supported bullying legislation. “Just having a definition of bullying in the state code helps reduce the problem,” he told Knight, pointing out that 43 states have already taken that step. “This move isn’t to create a way to bring criminal charges against anyone,” Melito said, “but research shows that test scores are higher in schools where the level of bullying is lower.”

Judith Moxley of Chesterfield County went an extra step and invited Delegate Betsy Carr to visit her at Meadowbrook High School, an invitation Carr readily accepted. Then Carr went an extra step and proposed that she send letters of congratulations to Meadowbrook’s honor roll students—an invitation Moxley readily accepted.

Ramona Crane and Linda Powell of Stafford County made sure that Delegate Bobby Orrock didn’t overlook valuable members of the education team. “We’re both support professionals,” Crane told him, “and we have bills to pay, too. When you’re talking about raises for teachers, we need to be in that conversation, too.”

Crane went on to say that there are some bus drivers in Stafford who are working just to have health insurance: “By the time they pay for health benefits at the end of the month, some of them only have about $100 left.”

VEA also received special recognition on the floor of the House of Delegates. Delegate Tom Rust introduced a resolution of congratulations in honor of the Association’s 150th anniversary and presented a proclamation to VEA President Meg Gruber, Vice President Dominic Melito, Executive Director Philip Forgit, and Government Relations Director Robley Jones.

 To see photos of the day’s activities, click here.

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