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Virginia Journal of Education

VEA News & Advocacy

VEA Members Reach Out to Legislators

Delegate Scott Garrett was getting the message, loud and clear. Eight educators from Central Virginia were crowded into his office on a chilly Monday morning in January for VEA’s annual Lobby Day, and they weren’t pulling punches.

They spoke of issues including teacher salaries, class sizes and funding shortfalls. “My wife and I are both educators,” said Chad Honeycutt of the Bedford County Education Association. “I’m also working two other jobs, but with three children, we still fall below the poverty level. It’s hard to fathom, especially when you realize that more and more is being asked of teachers.”

Amherst Education Association President Melanie Lewis told Delegate Garrett about a teaching colleague who’s a single mom raising both a child and a grandchild, also struggling below the poverty line.

“We’ve all got stories like that,” said Sarah Aubel of the Lunenburg Education Association. “We got into this work for the kids, but we need to live, too. Virginia teachers are almost $7,500 under the national average for teacher salaries.”

“I’m an assistant principal,” said Wanda Smith, also of Amherst, “and I see the time our staff puts in. They’re not being compensated for it. They’re being taken for granted.”

Lewis also pointed out the dangerously downward trend in state spending on public schools, telling Garrett, “Our per-pupil spending is significantly less than it was in 2009, and that’s really causing some struggles in our area. We depend on our legislators to step up for us and say, ‘We’ve made enough cuts—we’ve got to find a way to fund what our children need.’”

 Throughout the General Assembly Building in Richmond, VEA members were sitting down with elected officials, personally carrying the message that our public schools are in serious need. Delegations of educators came from as far west as Bristol and Wise County, as far north as the DC suburbs, as far east as Virginia Beach, and as far south as Mecklenburg County.


Association Doubles Summer Organizing Training

This summer, VEA is making it even easier for members throughout Virginia to get the training they need to strengthen their local Associations.

Both gatherings are designed to equip local leaders with the skills they’ll need to help their Associations become stronger, more effective participants in their community’s public education decision-making process. RSOS and SOI will offer members tracks focusing on topics such as organizing, compensation, political action, teacher evaluation and other issues.

Check the VEA website ( for registration details.


NEA Resource Aimed at Paraeducators 

Our schools wouldn’t be as successful as they are without the contributions of paraeducators—paraprofessionals who go by many professional titles. They’re teaching assistants, guidance specialists, home liaisons, career specialists, interpreters, tutors, ESL and special education assistants, and many other things—and they all provide quality educational support.

Paraeducators add up to more than 770,000 individuals working in public schools across the country, play an increasingly important role in improving student achievement, and are recognized as equal and essential members of professional educational teams.

Like all professionals, they benefit from support— information, training, supervision and professional development—in carrying out their roles and responsibilities. The NEA Paraeducator Handbook provides an overview of information about some key issues, including building professionalism for paraeducators, the laws and regulations affecting their work, and appropriate training and professional development.

The Handbook is a free resource; you can download it at


A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Press conferences, Lobby Day, Reggie Smith Organizing School, VEA conventions, Read Across America—just about any time the Association holds an event or reaches out to the community, our photographers are there. VEA photos are an excellent way to see your colleagues and officers in action, standing up and speaking out for public education.

For a firsthand look, check out VEA’s photo site at


VEA Welcomes Two New Field Staff Members

Two new staffers are now in place to assist Association members in Fairfax and southern central Virginia.

Jerrod Neal is the UniServ Director in EduServ, bringing with him more than 10 years of experience negotiating contracts and presenting cases before federal arbitrators. He’s worked with the Broward Teachers Union in Florida, the California School Employees Association and the Ohio Nurses Association.

Cindy Kirby has begun her VEA career as a UniServ Director in the Fairfax Education Association office, coming from the U.S. Postal Service. Her experience there includes serving as president and secretary-treasurer of the Colorado AFL-CIO, vice president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, and shop steward for the Mile Hi Branch 47 National Association of Letter Carriers.



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