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Virginia Journal of Education

VEA News & Advocacy


Association Media Campaign Wins Followers

VEA’s five-week online and radio advertising blitz reached millions of Virginians with the campaign message that “A good education is good for everybody.” (Check it out at  Indicators of the campaign’s reach:

2,000 “plays” of campaign videos
16,000 unique visitors to
25,000 pageviews at
134,000 “impressions” served through Facebook
11,500,000 online impressions delivered in ads


And the Winners Are…

The proposals are in, the reviews are over, and here are the members who have received VEA Mini-Grants to fund innovative classroom projects in 2014-15:

• Sarah Amick, Louisa County Education Association, “All Knotted Up”

• Kim Beuerle, Lynchburg Education Association, “Building to Write”

• Brittney Broadus, Brunswick Education Association, “Making Record Progress!”

• Karen Ciotta, Newport News Education Association, “Learning with Legos”

• Angelique Clark, Chesterfield Education Association, “History Explorers”

• Jodi Davidson, Bristol Virginia Education Association, “We’re Lovin’ It”

• Kari Joyner, Charlotte County Education Association, “History Scrapbook”

• Elizabeth Kappus, New Kent Education Association, “Learn Electricity with Makey-Makey”

• Rebecca Murray, Loretta Brown and Terri Desmarais, Spotsylvania Education Association, “Virginia Readers’ Choice Book Clubs”

• Stephanie Stanley, Dickenson Education Association, “Nutrition and Diet Therapy: My Plate”

• Anne Straume, Albemarle Education Association, “Gather Round Children, the Drums are Talking”

VEA’s Office of Teaching & Learning offers grants of up to $500. To learn more, visit


Association Announces New Hires, Promotions

Sandra Barnstead is the new Specialist in VEA’s Office of Teaching & Learning. A middle and high school math teacher, she joins VEA after serving as vice president of the Spotsylvania Education Association and a member of the VEA Board of Directors. She’s also a doctoral degree candidate at George Mason University.

Naila Holmes
, formerly the Assistant Manager in VEA’s Office of Field Support, Organizing and Minority Engagement, has been promoted to Director of that Office.
Paul Kirill is VEA’s new Information Systems Specialist. He’ll be responsible for the Association’s computer systems in both the headquarters and field offices. He comes to VEA from a Richmond engineering firm and holds a master’s degree in IT management from the University of Virginia.

Sonny Ogbuehi is the new Assistant Manager in VEA’s Office of Field Support, Organizing and Minority Engagement. He comes to VEA from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and has more than a decade of organizing experience. He’ll help with organizing efforts around Virginia, assist in managing UniServ staff, and facilitate training programs.

Dr. Antoinette Rogers, formerly a Specialist in VEA’s Office of Teaching & Learning, has been promoted to Director of that Office.


All the ‘SPARK’ You Need!

If you’re five years or less into your career as a teacher or education support professional, has the VEA got an offer for you!

It’s the annual SPARKS retreat, and it’s free. Every year, members just gaining experience in their education careers gather, learn more about the Association, get to know each other, and generally have a good time. Did we mention it’s free? All you have to do is get yourself there.

This year’s event is set for March 6-8, 2015, at the Wintergreen Resort. For all the details, visit




No Cuts, But No Party Yet, Either

Due largely to the continued hard work of our members, Virginia’s public schools have managed to dodge another bullet. When Governor McAuliffe and General Assembly leaders got together early this fall, they were looking at an unexpected budget shortfall requiring cuts of over $300 million this fiscal year and over $500 million next year.

Together, they hammered out a plan to counter that shortfall—and it prominently included protecting public schools from any of the funding cuts that had to be made.

“I am proud that we were able to protect many of our core democratic priorities, including K-12 funding, for this fiscal year,” the governor said at the time.

I applaud our governor and legislative leaders for having the schools’ backs. Our K-12 schools are the backbone of our future, and the Commonwealth’s investment in them must be safeguarded.

However, before we get carried away giving everyone a thumbs-up…

Sure, having schools protected from further slashing of funds is a very good thing, but the sad truth is that Virginia’s K-12 public schools are a long way from a fiscal thumbs-up. They’re actually, as they have been for years, woefully underfunded.

 Consider these facts:

• We live in a wealthy state: Virginia ranks 9th in the country in per capita personal income. However, even with that kind of tax money coming into public coffers, our Commonwealth ranks 38th in the U.S. in per-pupil spending on public elementary and secondary schools from state sources.

• Our average teacher salary ranks 37th in the country. And in average teacher salary as a percent of annual pay in the state, Virginia ranks 50th. Yes, 50th.

In spite of statistics like those, here’s another fact: Virginia’s public school system is still among the best in the nation (currently ranked 5th by Education Week), and our students continue to excel in national comparisons. Our fourth-graders rank 5th in the nation in reading and 9th in math.

 This is testimony to how our educators have been able to do great things with fewer resources than they really need. Think about how our students might shine if our schools were well-funded! Think about the outstanding teachers we’d be able to keep here if our teacher salary broke through at least the national average!

 So, while we’re grateful that K-12 schools were spared in the most recent round of budget cuts, we can’t be satisfied with that.

 And, while having helped elect a friend of public education as governor, we can’t be satisfied with that, either. We must keep educating and persuading our elected officials to protect, nurture and grow our public schools. We must be sure they hear from us, through phone calls and emails and in personal encounters on Lobby Day and back home. See the Legislative Agenda included in this issue for Association goals. Also, I invite you to become a cyberlobbyist if you aren’t one already. Sign up at today!

Stay in touch, with them and with us. Thanks for all you do!





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