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2019 - 2020 DEMANDS
Appendix to VEU’s 2019-2020 Demands
Demand #1: “Invest in Education Professionals”
As the 9th wealthiest state in the nation (1), it is unacceptable that Virginia’s public school teachers rank 34th in teacher pay.
According to NEA’s most recent national report, Virginia teachers make approximately 14% less ($8,638) than the national average (2). This data reflects salaries from the 2017-2018 year. VEU is demanding a 20% increase in pay in order for Virginia’s teachers to reach the national average. This is because, between 2017 and the end of the next biennium (2022), it is reasonable to expect at least 2% inflation each year. Thus, in order to cover the required 14%, plus account for inflation, 20% is the minimum the General Assembly should raise teacher pay.
Further, many educational support professionals (ESPs) are earning incomes that fall below the living wage (3). It is unethical to pay Virginia’s public school ESPs beneath the living wage when they are the workers that provide critical services for our Commonwealth’s children.
It will cost the state about $935 million to provide Virginia teachers (elementary and secondary) with a 20% salary increase in the upcoming two-year state budget. Structured as a 10% increase in the first year of the budget (the fiscal year 2021) and a 10% increase in the second year of the budget (the fiscal year 2022) (4). There will be a local matching component in addition to this amount.
2.) Demand #2: “Cost of the Virginia Board of Education’s proposed revisions to the Standards of Quality (SOQ)”
Total annual increase in state funding (excluding Equity Fund) = $819 million (5)
Eliminate the state cap(6) on support staff: $371.6 million (6)
Teacher leader and teacher mentor programs: $102.1 million
Specialized student support personnel (Increased staffing for school nurses, social workers, and school psychologists): $100 million
School counselors (One full-time school counselor for every 250 students): $88.2 million
Assistant principals (One full-time asst. principal for every 400 students): $83.9 million
Reading specialists (Funding for K-5 reading specialists): $36.6 million
English learner teachers (Additional funding tied to English proficiency): $26.7 million
Elementary school principals (One full-time principal in every school): $7.9 million
Principal mentor programs: $1.1 million
Work-based learning coordinators: $1.1 million
Description: These are the cost estimates provided by the Virginia Department of Education and presented to the Board of Education in October 2019 prior to their approval. The numbers show the annual cost to the state of implementing these changes. There is a separate local match for each of the proposals. It was noted during the presentation that the total cost will be lower if all the recommendations are implemented together. That’s because funding the specialized support personnel will lower the cost of eliminating the support cap. No cost estimates were provided of funding both those proposals together.
3.) Demand #3: “Raise Desperately Needed New Revenue”
A. Establish a progressive tax code ($270 million) - Virginia’s top state income tax rate starts at just $17,000. This means people struggling to make ends meet and pay their bills on time are paying the same top rate as millionaires. Adding new tax brackets for millionaires and households making over $500,000 would improve the fairness of our tax system and raise resources for our schools.
B. Modernize the state’s corporate income tax system ($80 - $165 million) - Add a combined reporting law so that large, multi-state corporations cannot shift profits to other states and get a tax advantage over main street businesses (7)
C. Reinstate Virginia’s own estate tax ($70 million) - A state tax on inherited wealth is a powerful tool to build shared prosperity.
D. Closing tax loopholes and bad tax breaks ($35 million) - Eliminate Virginia’s yacht tax loophole, film tax credit, online hotel tax loophole, and apply sales tax to digital downloads.
E. Eliminate school privatization subsidies ($12 million) - Eliminate Virginia’s scholarship tax credit program (also known as a neo-voucher) that uses public funds to incentivize private school donations.
F. Combined reporting law:
G. Coal Tax Credit:
H. Film Tax Incentive:
4.) Demand #4: “Address Racial and Socio-Economic Injustice”
Cost of adopting the proposed Equity Fund
The total annual increase in state funding - $131.9 million
Allocation by school division (8)
Allocates additional state funding (with local matching component) to school divisions based on the percentage of students eligible for free lunch. Funds can be used for hiring additional instructional or specialized support personnel, targeted compensation adjustments for teachers and up to 70% can be used for at-risk support or remediation programs.
TCI blog post on Equity fund proposal (9)
5.) Demand #5: “Protect Public Education”
Quality educational opportunities must be made available to all students through full funding of public education. Charter schools, parental choice education savings accounts, and tuition tax credits siphon much-needed funding from the public schools 90% of Virginia’s youth attend and funnel public tax dollars to a select few students.
The diversion of public tax dollars to school privatization schemes must be opposed. Charter schools, vouchers, and education savings accounts increase public education costs by requiring taxpayers to fund parallel school systems that duplicate services. When students leave their traditional public schools for taxpayer-funded alternatives, the schools they’ve left must continue to provide education, services, and safe buildings to remaining students, but with less funding to do so.
Every effort must be made to invest in improving public schools in order to provide equitable educational opportunities for all children. Charter schools, vouchers, and education savings plans promote separate but equal schooling and segregation by race and class. Across the nation, charter schools aren’t held accountable for the public funding they receive and skepticism about their effectiveness is on the rise. (10)
6.) Demand #6 “Restore Teacher Power and Voice”
As lawmakers seek ways to improve educator retention and recruitment, the General Assembly has the opportunity to do so by restoring union rights. The restoration of collective bargaining rights should serve as a highly attractive strategy for policymakers in Richmond because it will not cost the Commonwealth a single dollar.
The anti-union policies and sentiments projected by many in the General Assembly have had a disastrous effect on the welfare of workers in Virginia. As a result of Virginia’s anti-union legislation, the Commonwealth now ranks dead last in a recent analysis of nationwide working conditions. VEU believes that educator working conditions equal to 11 student learning conditions. Therefore, if education workers are stripped of the most basic union rights, it is the students who will ultimately suffer.
Virginia is one of only five other states in the entire country that have banned their public sector employees from engaging in collective bargaining. This ban is both arbitrary and toxic for educators, as it denies them the right to convey to their employers the ideal working conditions that will support a healthy learning and working environment.
(4) I can provide excel file for details of cost estimate
(6) TCI brief with additional context - https://www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org/2019/06/27/ten-years-behind-the-vital-role-of-non-instructionalstaff-in-promoting-successful-learning-environments-and-the-critical-need-for-funding/