Public Comments for: HB535 - Teachers; required to be compensated at or above national average.
Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Matsh Locality: Prince william

Please vote for this bill. The training should be optional.

Last Name: Carter Locality: Lynchburg

I strongly support HB535 and encourage the Subcommittee to vote "YES."

Last Name: Bates Organization: American Federation of Teachers Virginia Locality: Richmond

Comments Document

Dear Education - K-12 Subcommittee, my name is Tyvon Bates, and on behalf of American Federation of Teachers Virginia, I am writing to urge you to support HB 535 chief patroned by Delegate Clark. Pay was already inadequate before COVID-19 and the pandemic has only brought a new host of job responsibilities and risks—new technologies, new instructional settings, and too often, inadequate health and safety protections. This may be the breaking point for teachers. A RAND study released last year found that among teachers who have left the profession due to COVID-19, the most often cited reason was the “insufficient pay to merit the risks or stress.” This is especially true for teachers under 40 who were more than twice as likely to select this factor as their top reason for leaving. While low pay is making it tough for districts to retain teachers, districts also face challenges recruiting teachers. Total enrollment nationwide in teacher preparation programs has declined by more than one-third since 2010 – and this decline occurred as enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs was on the rise. Among high school students, low pay ranks as the top reason for not being interested in a career in teaching. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, teachers are paid less than other college-educated workers with similar experience and education. This financial penalty discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to retain teachers. Based on the most recent reporting, Virginia had the largest teacher pay penalty at 67.3 cents on the dollar earned by similar college-educated workers. Funding inequities across districts exacerbate the problems for districts with lower revenues and higher student poverty. Nationally, the base salary in high-poverty districts is on average $5,600 lower than low-poverty districts, a difference of nearly 10 percent. And these differences in salary have implications for school systems’ ability to recruit and retain staff. A 2021 study of the educator labor market in Washington state examined job openings statewide and found that shortages are nearly two times higher in high-poverty districts. Using compensation to address the staffing crises means making teaching and school staff jobs more competitive with comparable jobs in the private sector. Higher pay attracts high-achieving young people to enter the teaching profession and helps keep teachers from leaving the profession. And that matters for students. Countries that pay teachers more - Ireland, Canada, and Finland for example - are able to attract teachers with stronger cognitive skills and that makes a difference for students. When teachers have higher cognitive skills, their students perform better in math and reading. Other research has found that raising teacher wages by ten percent reduces high school dropout rates by three to four percent. Virginia has the least competitive teacher pay in the country. Virginia lawmakers should take immediate steps to resolve this. Closing the pay gap between Virginia teachers and other college educated workers would mean raising the average teacher salary by 32.7%. As a step toward that goal, Virginia should raise average teacher pay by 10% to bring teacher pay levels up to the U.S. average. I hope you will join me in supporting HB 535. Thank you, Tyvon Bates American Federation of Teachers Virginia

Last Name: Bates Organization: American Federation of Teachers Virginia Locality: Richmond

Comments Document

Dear Education - K-12 Subcommittee, my name is Tyvon Bates, and on behalf of American Federation of Teachers Virginia, I am writing to urge you to support HB 353 chief patroned by Delegate Clark. Pay was already inadequate before COVID-19 and the pandemic has only brought a new host of job responsibilities and risks—new technologies, new instructional settings, and too often, inadequate health and safety protections. This may be the breaking point for teachers. A RAND study released last year found that among teachers who have left the profession due to COVID-19, the most often cited reason was the “insufficient pay to merit the risks or stress.” This is especially true for teachers under 40 who were more than twice as likely to select this factor as their top reason for leaving. While low pay is making it tough for districts to retain teachers, districts also face challenges recruiting teachers. Total enrollment nationwide in teacher preparation programs has declined by more than one-third since 2010 – and this decline occurred as enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs was on the rise. Among high school students, low pay ranks as the top reason for not being interested in a career in teaching. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, teachers are paid less than other college-educated workers with similar experience and education. This financial penalty discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to retain teachers. Based on the most recent reporting, Virginia had the largest teacher pay penalty at 67.3 cents on the dollar earned by similar college-educated workers. Funding inequities across districts exacerbate the problems for districts with lower revenues and higher student poverty. Nationally, the base salary in high-poverty districts is on average $5,600 lower than low-poverty districts, a difference of nearly 10 percent. And these differences in salary have implications for school systems’ ability to recruit and retain staff. A 2021 study of the educator labor market in Washington state examined job openings statewide and found that shortages are nearly two times higher in high-poverty districts. Using compensation to address the staffing crises means making teaching and school staff jobs more competitive with comparable jobs in the private sector. Higher pay attracts high-achieving young people to enter the teaching profession and helps keep teachers from leaving the profession. And that matters for students. Countries that pay teachers more - Ireland, Canada, and Finland for example - are able to attract teachers with stronger cognitive skills and that makes a difference for students. When teachers have higher cognitive skills, their students perform better in math and reading. Other research has found that raising teacher wages by ten percent reduces high school dropout rates by three to four percent. Virginia has the least competitive teacher pay in the country. Virginia lawmakers should take immediate steps to resolve this. Closing the pay gap between Virginia teachers and other college educated workers would mean raising the average teacher salary by 32.7%. As a step toward that goal, Virginia should raise average teacher pay by 10% to bring teacher pay levels up to the U.S. average. I hope you will join me in supporting HB 353. Thank you, Tyvon Bates American Federation of Teachers Virginia

Last Name: VanDerhoff Locality: Springfield

As a public school teacher in Virginia, I urge you to vote in support of HB 535. Virginia's teacher pay is 10% below the national average and Virginia has the largest pay penalty in the country, with teachers earning on average only 67% of what our similarly educated peers earn in other fields. If Virginia wants to compete with surrounding states, it is time to bring teacher pay up to at least the national average. I appreciate Delegate Clark for sponsoring this bill and hope that you vote in favor of it.

Last Name: Bentle Organization: Fairfax Education Assocation Locality: Fairfax, Herndon

I am a teacher in FCPS, and I personally support all of this bills. All of these bills are also part of Virginia Education Association's list of bills to support.

Last Name: Savage Locality: Fairfax County

I applaud Del. Clark and others who have introduced HB535. During the campaign, both parties made raising teacher salaries and investing in education a keystone of their platforms. Now that the campaign is over, it's time to deliver on that promise by passing HB535.

End of Comments