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Teachers, Advocates Call For Full Funding Of Virginia Schools

Teachers with Fund our Schools signs
New campaign, Fund Our Schools, launches ahead of the 2020 General Assembly session. (Patrick Larsen / VPM)

Reported by VPM News Intern Patrick Larsen. 

Fund Our Schools is the name of a new coalition of education nonprofits and advocates calling for Virginia public schools to be fully and evenly funded in the next state budget. The campaign launched Wednesday night. 

Rachael Deane, the legal director of the JustChildren advocacy program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, says.

“When we talk about full funding, we really mean funding to a level where students are offered a meaningful opportunity to learn,” Deane said.

She says that it’s not just a question of how much money is being spent, but where it’s going.

According to the Virginia Board of Education, the Commonwealth ranks 42nd out of all 50 states in per pupil state funding.

That means localities are left to make ends meet - which advocates like Deane say results in extreme disparities for students and educators according to where they live.

Carla Okouchi, an elementary teacher from Fairfax County, says that full funding also means providing fair wages to teachers in the state.

“It’s just going to take a little bit more of a progressive mindset to make those changes that are needed,” Okouchi said.

Other teachers involved in the campaign say that collective bargaining and striking rights are essential to attract and keep high quality educators in the state.

The first day of the 2020 General Assembly session is Jan. 8. 

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.