Today marks the official start of the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session. Last night, a group of local teachers and community members welcomed legislators to Richmond by holding up signs along 1-95.
Over a dozen teachers from Richmond Public Schools lined the Bellevue Overpass holding individual foam boards lit up by christmas light letters. Streamed together their message read “fund our schools.”
That’s the priority Binford Middle School teacher Sarah Pedersen wants to see her legislators tackle this session. She and her husband are both public school teachers raising a one year old.
Pedersen says, despite loving their jobs, their salaries have put a strain on their family planning. “It breaks my heart to think that my daughter might end up being an only child because we cannot afford to have the family that we always dreamt we would.”
Fellow teacher Aaron Garber, Linwood Holton Elementary, says he looks forward to not having to work two jobs just to make ends meet. After a full day working as a preschool teacher, he says he works construction and home repair jobs during the evening and on weekends. “I would like to one day work one job as a teacher and not feel like I have to put in extra time outside of my full time job in order to make ends meet.”
Governor Ralph Northam has proposed a 5 percent teacher pay increase to be considered by the General Assembly during budget negotiations.
Over the past decade, teacher salaries have decreased by over 13 percent. Despite Northam’s increase, Virginia teacher pay would still fall short of the national average.