Click here to send your delegate the letter below:
As we move into the press of the final days before Crossover, you will be considering a number of bills which will have a great impact on the ability of our Commonwealth to attract and retain high quality teaching personnel.
It is important that you consider some key facts regarding the teacher workforce as you make your decisions regarding these bills. According to the Virginia Department of Education in 2010-2011 we had 98,792 teachers. We have an 8.9% turnover rate. That means we need to hire 8,694 teachers per year. Virginia teacher preparation programs at our colleges and universities are producing 3,247 teachers per year. Clearly, we must position the Commonwealth to attract future teachers from out of state.
Three bills before you will diminish our ability to recruit the best and brightest young teachers to Virginia, and I urge you to oppose these bills:
HB 1129 will significantly reduce the retirement benefits for Virginia’s teachers. It reduces the retirement benefits for all school employees except those within five years of retirement. It is important to note that this bill does little to reduce the current unfunded VRS liability, and there are no significant savings until years into the future, when the current recession will have passed.
HB 576 will deny future teachers and principals a fair dismissal policy. All other state and local government employees will retain fair dismissal procedures, and all of our neighboring states offer fair dismissal policies to teachers.
HB 321, a tuition tax credit proposal, will reduce future funding increases, according to the Fiscal Impact Statement. The FIS says, “To the extent that this legislation is successful, it will result in future funding increases being less for public education than would otherwise be the case.” This is not the time to create the new entitlement of paying private school tuitions at taxpayer expense. Our efforts should be devoted to improving the public schools attended by 94.8% of Virginia’s children.
I wish you wisdom, patience, and endurance in these grueling days prior to Crossover.