Virginia teachers some of the lowest paid in America
By Keya Vakil
April 27, 2019

Virginia’s teachers are the third most underpaid in the nation when compared to other college-educated workers, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank.

In the last four years, the weekly pay of Virginia teachers has fallen 31% behind the pay of other college-educated workers in the state.

The report found that teachers in every state make less than their college-educated peers, but Virginia’s numbers were particularly grim. The Commonwealth came in at 48th on the list, behind only Washington, where teachers make 31.6% less than their peers, and Arizona, where teachers make 32.6% less.

The report identifies the 2008 recession as a key reason for cuts to public school funding, but it also laid some of the blame at the feet of state lawmakers.

Since the recession, Virginia is one of eight states that has collected less tax revenue than it had the capacity for, which has caused steep reductions in K-12 funding and teacher salaries.

This year, after significant public pressure, Virginia’s General Assembly finally passed a budget that provided teachers with a raise of up to 5%. About half of that raise will come from the state, while the other half will be up to each locality to match.

Despite this raise, the state’s teachers will still earn far below the national average.

Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D-Henrico), a teacher, highlighted how the pay discrepancy has a ripple effect on schools and students.

In a Friday morning tweet thread, Sen. Jennifer McLellan (D-Richmond) also addressed the report as a reason for the severe teacher shortage facing the state.

Indeed, the number of unfilled teaching positions in Virginia increased by 40% from 2007 to 2017, with high-poverty schools facing a particular “crisis,” according to a 2017 report from the Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages.

McLellan also called on the state to do better and to fully fund recommended staffing ratios.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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