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VEA Members Get Real with Legislators

Her passion for the subject had Virginia Beach Education Association member Teresa Abdulaaqee leaning forward in her chair in Delegate Cheryl Turpin’s General Assembly office earlier today while she stressed the importance of anonymity in a proposed statewide climate survey for public school employees.

"If it’s going to work, teachers need to be able to share their comments freely and honestly," Abdulaaqee said of the survey, which has been introduced in the House, during a conversation at VEA’s annual Lobby Day event. Noting that many employees fear repercussions when surveys aren’t anonymous, she went on to point out that the survey being proposed in one that is already in use in several other states.

She found a receptive audience in Turpin, a newly-elected Delegate who also happens to be a VBEA member and a teacher at Frank W. Cox High School. "As a science teacher, I believe in collecting and analyzing data," she said. "Let’s find out what teachers are thinking."

Turpin joins Henrico Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg as VEA member-legislators entering their freshman terms in the General Assembly, a development that’s been a great encouragement to educators around the state. Turpin summed it up nicely: "In a government by the people, for the people, who’s a better representative than a teacher?"

Hundreds of VEA members spent the day at the Capitol sharing their stories with legislators, taking advantage of the chance to put faces and relationships on the education issues up for debate in the 2018 session. Topics on the table during the day’s conversations including improving teacher pay, shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline, making constructive changes to the Standards of Learning, and finding ways to more effectively handle student discipline while lowering a too-high suspension rate.

"We just naturally want to advocate for our students," says first-time Lobby Day participant Derick Vance of the Henrico Education Association, "and this was an excellent opportunity to do that."

Click here to see photos from today’s event.


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