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VEA Board Engages in Dialogue with Robinson

Upon taking the job, the first call Virginia Education Secretary Gerard Robinson made was to VEA President Kitty Boitnott. The appointee of Gov. Bob McDonnell says he wanted to establish a productive relationship with your Association.

Continuing in that theme, Robinson appeared before the VEA Board of Directors Friday evening to explain his vision for Virginia schools and to answer questions.

“The purpose of our getting together tonight is to try to learn from one another as we come at the same issues with very different perspectives, so that we might better understand one another and find ways to work together for the benefit of all of Virginia’s children,” Boitnott said.

Robinson emphasized that McDonnell’s administration and VEA have a common goal. “We ultimately want the same thing: quality education for kids and quality teachers. The challenge is making it happen.”

In his remarks, Robinson emphasized that he understood that many teachers feel undervalued and underpaid. But in response to questions from the audience, he expressed doubt salaries will be raised soon. “I wish I could tell you that you’ll get a raise next year,” he said. “Probably won’t happen.” In response to another question, he said there is little he can do to ensure that local school divisions use federal stimulus dollars to keep salaries from slipping further. “At the end of the day, it’s a local issue,” he said.

Earlier, Board members heard from LaTonya Waller, the 2011 Virginia Teacher of the Year. A science teacher and member of the Richmond Education Association, Waller said VEA’s work gives educators the foundation they need to excel with students. “I want to thank you for what you do for them, for me, and for all the teachers I know,” she said. “When I represent you as Teacher of the Year you will always be in my thoughts. You are why teachers feel so supported.” (Watch video of Waller's and Robinson's comments here.)

Among the highlights of the Board’s action on the agenda, directors:
• Approved the submission of two bylaw amendments to be voted on by delegates to the next VEA Delegate Assembly. One bylaw amendment would add two new positions to the VEA Legislative Committee: one appointed by the president and one elected from the Board of Directors. The other bylaw amendment would help gradually restore funding for the VEA Public Relations Campaign. A $6 dues assessment for the campaign was suspended in 2010-2011 for one year.
• Approved a recommendation of an ad hoc committee that the VEA not pursue holding an upcoming VEA annual convention in Bristol. In her remarks for the Board, Boitnott explained that Bristol does not have a facility with appropriate meeting space for the general sessions and other meeting requirements of the Delegate Assembly. Boitnott added that VEA will explore options for holding other VEA meetings at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. Delegates at the 2010 VEA convention had passed a New Business Item in favor of a convention in Bristol, thus the Board’s action required a two-thirds vote to not implement the action.


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