A few days later, the blackface yearbook photos from Governor Ralph Northam's yearbook surfaced, then the allegations of sexual assault against the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, and then Attorney General Mark Herring's admission that he, too, had worn blackface, at a college party at the University of Virginia. And a great many of us got sidelined (I also posted and tweeted a lot on that subject.)
I did manage to publish this piece about it in the Progressive:
The #Red4Ed movement has kicked off in Virginia: On January 28, as many as 5,000 public school teachers, educators, workers, parents, students, and other stakeholders marched on the Virginia state capitol in Richmond to demand fully funded public schools. The march and rally, organized by Virginia Educators United, a “grassroots campaign” of teachers, staff members, parents and community members, was one of the largest to descend on the state capitol in the last century.
The well-organized event was supported by strategic use of social media and a user-friendly website. The group’s demands include restoring funding for education to pre-2008 recession levels, increasing teacher pay to national averages, paying education support professionals competitive wages, recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers and more teachers of color, more funding for school infrastructure costs, and ensuring sufficient numbers of support staff like counselors and social workers.
The day of the rally, Virginia lawmakers pledged to fund Governor Ralph Northam’s initiative to provide teachers and school staff with a five percent pay increase. This raise, however, is only for certain state-mandated positions, and localities can’t or won’t always provide the required matching funds.You can read the whole thing here.
In the meantime, the Virginia General Assembly did pass a budget; session just ended. The VEA (Virginia Education Association) called the budget, "a first step to adequate funding." You can read their press release here. However, many in the VEU (Virginia Educators United) group don't seem so sanguine. See this post on facebook for example:
It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming year before next year's session--if local VEA and Virginia AFT units draw more members and get more organized, if sufficient numbers decide, and are able, to take things to the next level and organize some sort of state-wide strike or work stoppage.