Virginia Dems push bills to raise teacher pay

By Isabel Soisson

February 8, 2024

Bills aimed at raising pay for Virginia teachers and non-instructional support staff to the national average or higher are continuing to work their way through the legislative process.

Senate Bill (SB) 104 and House Bill (HB) 187 were introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Del. Nadarius Clark (D-Suffolk) respectively; they would both require the commonwealth to increase salaries by 3% for the 2025-26 school year and by an additional 7% in 2026-27.

HB 187 advanced from the House Appropriations committee earlier this week, and SB 104 has been referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for consideration. Both bills have gained bipartisan support, with several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle speaking out in support of the bills last month.

“This is something that we campaigned on,” Del. Clark said at a press conference last month. “This is something that we heard our constituents all across Virginia say that they want.”

Virginia continues to face a significant teacher shortage in public schools driven by a number of factors including the pandemic, dissatisfaction with wages, and political fights over education.

The most recent data from the Virginia Department of Education shows that the commonwealth’s teacher vacancies more than doubled from 1,063 in 2019 to 3,649 in 2023. In April of last year, the Virginia Education Association (VEA) reported that the estimated average teacher pay in the commonwealth was just over $62,100 annually—more than $6,300 below the estimated national average for the job. In fact, Virginia teacher pay hasn’t topped the national average in over 50 years.

“In addition, analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows Virginia has the third least competitive teacher pay in the country when compared to other fields that require a similar level of education,” the VEA report read.

In December, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin released his proposed budget for 2024-2025, which failed to fully address Virginia’s school funding issues. The budget included modest salary increases for public school teachers–a 1% increase in 2024 and a 2% increase in 2025–but the VEA noted that these meager pay bumps fail to keep pace with inflation. When adjusted, teacher salaries would effectively decrease over the next two years.

“The handful of relatively small education investments, far outweighed by cuts, are an insult to educators and families and don’t come close to what’s needed to improve academic outcomes for students or get educator pay to the national average,” VEA President Dr. James Fedderman said in a statement.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION | POLITICS

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