Republican Department of Education focused on culture wars and defunding schools
RICHMOND, VA – On the same morning that the Republican Department of Education announced that schools would lose over 200 million dollars, House Democrats gathered to talk about real solutions to our education system. While Republicans are proposing bills and budgets that ban books and defund our public schools, Democrats have filed nearly 60 proactive bills that would help provide every child with a world class education. The bills proposed cover a range of popular and paid-for solutions to meet the problems Virginia schools face today.
“There are big differences between both parties on education,” said Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg. “House Republicans want to defund our schools and make our classrooms a stage for MAGA culture wars. They’re so distracted by their ideological MAGA politics that they’ve fundamentally dropped the ball on something that impacts almost every person across the Commonwealth.”
“House Republicans have shown time and time again what their priorities are – and Virginia families just aren’t on the list,” Leader Don Scott said, “We’ve heard a lot from this Governor and Republican Delegates about their corporate tax cuts. They’ve said we have the money to do it, that now is the time. Now come to find out they’ve known since December that our schools will be 200 million dollars short this year. Virginians deserve an answer today about how we’ll get this money back to our schools.”
This afternoon, Delegate Suhas Subramanyam gave a floor speech about the 200 million dollar loss, saying, “This is a major cut to education funding by Governor Youngkin two-thirds of the way into the school year. Our children are recovering from COVID-19 learning loss, our schools are crumbling, and we have staffing shortages across the Commonwealth. Republicans have been more focused on turning our classrooms into battlegrounds for culture wars than ensuring our students have the resources they need.”
Democrats are committed to providing safe schools; retaining and attracting excellent teachers; and ensuring our students have the resources they need to succeed, from mental health counselors to modernized classrooms.
Below is the list of the education bills highlighted in this morning’s press conference:
HB2307, Delegate Simonds’ bill would have required the Board of Education to make recommendations to the General Assembly for amendments to the Standards of Quality that would establish standards for the maintenance and operations, renovation, and new construction of public elementary and secondary school buildings across the Commonwealth.
HB1694, Delegate Simonds’ bill would have ensured that local school boards included funds for school maintenance or replacement projects in capital improvements plans.
HB1566, Delegate Rasoul’s bill requires Virginia to compensate its public school teachers at a rate that is competitive, which means at or above the national average teacher salary, in order to attract and keep highly qualified teachers.
HB1938, Delegate Plum’s bill would increase the number of school counselors in each school district by adding new positions for counselors with specialized training or experience in mental health.
HB2111, Delegate Bourne’s bill, would fully fund the state standards of quality and remove the support cap to lower staff-to-student ratios for school counselors, teachers of English as a second language, and assistant principals, and increase the number of specialized student support positions.
HB2378, Delegate Maldonado’s bill, would have given temporary funding to school divisions with high turnover or staffing shortages to utilize for recruitment and retention bonuses, to attract and keep the best teachers possible.
HB2142, Delegate Guzman’s bill, would have included K-12 education and special education as “high-demand fields” eligible for the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) program.
HB2067, Delegate Lopez’s bill, would reduce the cost barrier that can keep kids in low-income households from taking Advanced Placement exams and International Baccalaureate exams by working to remove the fee for any student eligible for free or reduced price lunch.