New VEA Report Finds Critical Failures by the State to Adequately Support Schools that Do Not Meet Full Accreditation Standards
August 31, 2022
August 31, 2022
Richmond, VA – In a new report released by the Virginia Education Association today, analysis shows that a combination of the state’s history of underfunding these schools and the state office that is supposed to support them, punitive responses for not meeting full accreditation, and state sanctioned segregation practices all contributed to significant inequities in resources and outcomes for students in these schools.
“No matter what we look like, where we live, or how much money we make, most of us want our children to attend well-resourced schools that help them pursue their dreams,” said Dr. James J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association. “No educators endeavor to fail and every school has hard-working professionals that strive to meet students’ needs. Yet certain politicians have deprived many of our schools of critical resources, particularly in Black communities, and then point the finger at educators for the challenges these schools face by referring to them as ‘failing schools.’”
Since the inception of Virginia’s school accreditation system, schools that did not meet full state standards were labeled “failing schools” and still are to this day – this is despite receiving less state and local funding per student on average and being composed of a student body that faces significant barriers to learning, according to the new analysis by the Virginia Education Association.
“When we zoom out and consistently see race, history of housing segregation, and poverty as overwhelming indicators of if a school is designated as not fully accredited, often called ‘failing’ by policymakers and media, then it becomes abundantly clear that policy choices over many years contributed to and sustain this trend,” said Chad Stewart, Policy Analyst at the Virginia Education Association. “Virginia lawmakers must begin adequately resourcing these schools.”
The report finds that in the most recent accreditation year, 54% of students in not fully accredited schools were Black, despite only making up 22% of the student population statewide. Black students are the only overrepresented racial or ethnic group in schools that are accredited with conditions. The report calls for a series of investments and policy changes to begin adequately supporting these schools in the years to come.
“We as lawmakers and state leaders need to do more to make critical investments and fixes to our schools that need it the most,” said Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg. “I want to thank the VEA for this comprehensive report on accreditation and for being a leader on this issue. We can both hold schools accountable for results and allocate resources effectively so that every child has what they need to learn and reach their highest potential, regardless of their race or zip code.”
“For too long, Virginia has failed to adequately fund many of our highest-need schools and then turned around and accused them of ‘failing,’” said Dr. Amy Tillerson-Brown, Education Committee Chair of VA NAACP. “Hopefully, lawmakers will examine the state’s culpability in creating and maintaining conditions for low student achievement.”
High impact investments detailed in the report that could significantly improve outcomes at not fully accredited schools include:
“This new VEA report sheds light on how the outcomes we see in many of our schools that struggle the most today are a product of state supported segregation, deliberate disinvestment and underfunding of historically Black communities over the past century. The findings are clear: state lawmakers must attend to this reality and finally start adequately funding our schools where students face the most barriers to learning,” said Fallon Speaker, Legal Director of the Youth Justice Program at Legal Aid Justice Center.