Lynchburg, VA - "The truth is, we are falling farther and farther behind," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, talking in Lynchburg Tuesday about the need for education reform.
Wednesday, the General Assembly gets down to business, and education reform is a big piece in putting the economic puzzle together again.
Since day one, the McDonnell administration has focused on job creation. Tuesday morning, at the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bolling said education is a big part of creating jobs.
In his final year as Lt. Governor, Bill Bolling is taking an aggressive look at schools.
"It's all about education. It's all about preparing a workforce that can support business and industry in our state," said Bolling.
A top priority is early education, including $750,000 for the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, requiring reading proficiency by third grade, even bringing the national Teach for America program to Virginia, which is education's version of the Peace Corps.
And for students interested in learning a skill and not going to college, Bolling says, there must be options.
"Education has got to be a lot more flexible and a lot more individualized," said Bolling.
For the first time in five years, a statewide pay raise for teachers is on the table. That's got some excited.
"We all want the best teachers in front of kids, and putting the compensation to reward those teachers is definitely the right thing to do," said Dr. Scott Brabrand, superintendent, Lynchburg City Schools.
Stefanie Prokity studies education. She even toured world-renowned school systems in Finland last year. It's her belief how Virginia educates, pays and respects its teachers matters a great deal.
"It's one of the highest respected professions over in Finland, next to doctors and lawyers and things like that," said Stefanie Prokity, Successful Innovations, co-owner.
There's a lot to the Governor's education reform, but it has these three basic goals: All students deserve the best schools and teachers; all students should be prepared for college; and all should have a chance at the American Dream. Now, it's up to the General Assembly to make these ideas a reality.