RICHMOND, VA — In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have failed to distribute much-needed emergency education relief, made a point to exclude DACA recipients and international students from that relief, and the administration continues to garnish the wages of those struggling to repay student loans.
This fits a pattern of the administration seeking to cut vital education funding here in the Commonwealth. Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 cuts millions of dollars meant to fund programs for rural and low-income schools, and homeless children and youth education. The administration has also repeatedly sought to eliminate tens of millions of dollars worth of federal grants for teacher training programs in Virginia.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Virginia have worked to create a more equitable education for all students across the Commonwealth. Democrats have provided for menstrual products in schools, established safeguards for transgender students, expanded in-state tuition to all residents of Virginia, and much more.
Some of our educator legislators reminded us of their dedication to educational reform in Virginia.
"Public education is the core of our state and local spending, and we rely on the revenue streams that are hardest hit by the economic downturn," said Delegate Sally Hudson, who teaches economics at the University of Virginia. "States need the federal government to step in and ensure that we support all our schools and students through this crisis."
"In the absence of leadership from the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos, Virginia Democrats have stepped up to lead the way on education and have demonstrated their commitment to help teachers and students," said Senator Mamie Locke, who is a professor of political science at Hampton University. "We are focused on the long-term solutions that will make quality education more equitable in the Commonwealth."
"As educators, we know that students need a safe, stable learning environment in order to succeed. At a time of enormous stress and uncertainty, with schools empty and learning shifted online, it’s never been more important to provide our teachers and students with the resources they need," said Senator Ghazala Hashmi, who was the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. "But instead of taking action to help, the Trump administration has only made things worse. As Donald Trump’s chaotic response to the pandemic causes the United States to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths, he and his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are going out of their way to inflict even more harm on Virginia’s students."
"In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, education cuts led to a decade of stagnant teacher pay, lack of counselors in our schools, and staggering deferred maintenance backlogs," said Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg, a high school civics teacher in Henrico County. "This session, we made tremendous progress on these issues. As we deal with the economic fallout from COVID-19 and begin to reconcile our federal and state budgets, we mustn't repeat our past mistakes. We cannot afford to continue to sacrifice our most vulnerable communities, our children's education, or our state's future in the name of austerity."
"As a mom of two school-aged boys and a higher education administrator at Richard Bland College of William and Mary, I am witnessing every day how this pandemic is impacting both K-12 and our colleges and universities," said Delegate Lashrecse Aird. "The federal government must change course immediately to offer more education relief before our students succumb to long-term irreparable academic damage. Additionally, investment is critical right now to ensure our institutions are prepared for the training that Americans will need to re-enter the workforce."