RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) — Virginia lawmakers said they are working to increase teacher salaries across the Commonwealth; raises for Virginia educators are included in budget proposals from Virginia's House and Senate.
The coronavirus pandemic changed many aspects of public education including how, where and when Virginia students learn. The pandemic also forced teachers and support staff to create new ways to connect their students with the curriculum.
Governor Ralph Northam said teachers need to be compensated for the extra work they've been doing during the pandemic.
"Our teachers in Virginia are working at less than the national average and that is just not acceptable to me and I don't think it is acceptable to our legislators," Northam said during a press conference on Wednesday.
The National Center for Education Statistics reveals the average teacher in the United States earned about $61,000 during the 2018-2019 school year. In Virginia, the average teacher earned about $52,000 that same year.
"We need to pay our teachers," Northam said.
"We are making sure we are paying our teachers to the point where we keep many of those quality teachers," Republican Senator Steve Newman said. "I think we are going to do both of those items."
"With us being so far behind the national average, Virginia needs to step up and give our teachers more," Democratic Delegate Sam Rasoul said.
Northam's proposed budget includes a 2% bonus for teachers in Virginia. Legislators said they will debate the budget proposals for the next few weeks before anything is finalized.