Around 4000 Virginians organized the protest manifestation to make legislators pay attention to the education funding. Teachers say that their students should study in better conditions than those they have now. As an example, they said about the situation when it’s impossible to hang something on the walls as they are full of roaches. Besides, students have to study computer science without computers. How is it possible?
The scale of issues
The problem is even worse than it can imagine. The level of school funding decreased around 9 per cent since the recession ended and can’t cover schools’ costs. As a result, educational organizations need large investments in different spheres: textbooks, computers, repairing classrooms, etc. Moreover, the financial gap between schools in Virginia’s richer and poorer communities became deeper.
One of the major issues involved in funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency, the state health insurance plan. The West Virginia Legislature had voted to boost state contributions to the plan by using a percentage of the annual state surplus, but the teachers’ unions were demanding a more reliable financing plan. Health care costs have increased quickly enough that proposed teacher pay increases cannot match teacher payments for health care.
The number of protests is huge and these actions covered the whole country from the teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma, to the recently concluded L.A. teachers strike. And this situation takes place in the most developed and the richest state in the world.
The state’s largest educator union acted as the initiator of the action which the main goal is to inform the government about the deplorable state of public education and unbelievable lack of money in this sphere despite the prosperous condition of state’s economy. The members of three main Education Associations joined the march of protest near the capitol. Now this action becomes more and more powerful.
According to the statistic’s data, Virginia is the 12th richest state in the USA and the best area for business investments. That’s why the number of funds and private investors should be a guarantee of stable development and modernization in public schools.
But the position of the state in the rank of funding and teachers’ payment is 41st and 34th accordingly. It is an absurd situation but the fact is fact. So the motto of that manifestation was “Virginia can do better”.
The rally affected the government to reorganize the structure of budget and increase the level of teachers’ monthly payments of 5 per cent. Maybe this number is not a huge change on the paper but in reality, it will have a serious impact on the situation at all. Moreover, it’s only the first step which will change the situation and in future become the platform for significant changes.
The leaders of this protest manifestation claim that their main goals to remind the government about their duties and to show them that students and teachers are not only charts and graphs but real people with real feelings and rights.