Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Here We Go Again!

Here we go again!

The session has just begun, and efforts to discount the credibility of education advocates are already underway. The truth is the best way to counter these efforts we are seeing to cover up Virginia’s underfunding of our schools.

First of all, what is being said to cloud the waters?

The Governor’s budget address cited the JLARC Review of State Spending to justify his proposed education funding levels saying:

“… in K-12 education, according to the JLARC report, total funding has grown 41% over the last decade, while student enrollment has only gone up 6%.”

However, Page 14 of the same report offers a more telling analysis:

“DOE (Direct Aid) … was not among the ten fastest growing agencies …, having grown more slowly (21%) than inflation, which grew 23% over the period.”

The report points out that the implementation of the federal mandates associated with NCLB and special education requirements had a substantial impact on the cost of public education.

Page 3 says, “this report does not address the merits or adequacy of funding for governmental functions, agencies, or programs.”

In this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Speaker of the House, William Howell, said, “The Virginia Education Association is going to say, "We're not getting enough for K-12 education. You're starving us. You're cutting us." Well, in fact, we'll be giving them a good bit more money, but they like to call that a cut because it's not as much as they would have liked.”

Let’s look at the facts. Virginia’s per-pupil spending from state sources ranks 35th in the nation (CQ Education State Ranking 2011-2012). Our average teacher salary is $4,510 below the national average (CQ Education State Ranking 2011-2012). But, we are the 7th wealthiest state in per capita personal income (CQ State Rankings 2011).

In year two of the proposed budget we will be running our schools on $547 less per-pupil than in FY 2009. We have 2,116 fewer teachers in our schools today (VA DOE) than we did in 2009 , but we have about 45,000 more students (Weldon Cooper Center).

We’ll be doing our best to make sure that the decisions regarding funding our schools are based on facts rather than sound-bites. Please help by sharing the facts with your Senator and Delegate.

Thanks for checking in on the first day of the session. Please check this post again tomorrow, and please plan to attend VEA Lobby Day on January 23.