I’m marching for our schools on Monday.
Confession: I generally try to avoid large moving groups of people ever since I had an anxiety attack during a fire drill when I was a pregnant teacher envisioning my unborn child being trampled by hundreds of high schoolers. But this cause is worth the crowd.
I’m a part of the Red For Ed movement in Virginia.
It is a grassroots effort comprised of teachers, staff, and parents from all over the state asking for appropriate funding from the state in the form of these five pleas:
- Restore funding for public education so every child has access to a high-quality education
- Increase teacher pay to the national average and provide competitive wages for all education support professionals
- Recruit and retain high quality and diverse teachers
- Help localities address school infrastructure needs so that every Virginia child can learn in a safe, clean, and healthy learning environment
- Ensure that all schools have adequate support staff (counselors, nurses, and social workers) to provide the appropriate social and emotional support for students and keep schools safe
Let me be clear, I’m not marching because I think public schools have failed my elementary aged son.
He goes to a warm classroom each day in a school that is being renovated and updated with a teacher who is extraordinary – a passionate, skilled professional. His classroom has a bountiful library of books and a working desk and chair for each student. There are seventeen first graders in his class. His school has less than 300 students with its own full-time nurse and school counselor, who works with every child and knows their name. The principal loves his school, staff, and families at the school which oozes through the community.
I’m not marching against the schools.
I’m marching for the schools.
I’m marching because I know that every student doesn’t have access to what I listed above for my son.
I’m marching because there is nothing about my child that should make him more privileged to a quality education than any other child.
There are schools in our county that are over capacity and thousands of classes over 28 students.
There are schools in our city with roofs falling in and no toilet paper for students – where teachers use their own money for rat traps for their classrooms.
There are areas of the state that can’t staff their schools with enough teachers.
We are losing passionate, life-changing teachers because they can’t support their family on the salary they are paid. Others are leaving because, as class-sizes grow and additional responsibilities pile on, it is unsustainable.
These aren’t just stories I’ve heard. These are realities I lived as a teacher.
Having quality teachers isn’t optional. It’s not something that we should make happen if we can find the funds. There are never enough funds.
The kind of education our kids receive today is the kind of society we will have tomorrow.
We are teaching our next citizens and workforce. The ones that will make decisions for our children and take care of us. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to settle for mediocre.
I’m marching because having quality public education affects every single one of us – whether you have children in public schools or not.
I’m marching because it’s the right thing to do.
How you can join the march:
620 W. Main St, Richmond, VA 23220
We will gather beginning at 11:00 AM at VCU-Monroe Park, 620 W. Main St, Richmond, VA 23220. March to the State Capital will begin at 11:30 AM.
Bell Tower on Capitol Square, Richmond, VA 23219
To help with parking, Richmond Public Schools and Henrico Public Schools are providing shuttles from some high school hubs. Seats are limited – follow the links for information about each location.
If you can’t march, contact your state representatives. Every member of the General Assembly is up for reelection this year, so let them know that education funding is important to you.
Go to Virginia Educators United for more information and talking points about school funding.