RICHMOND, Va. – A sea of red washed over Richmond Monday as hundreds of teachers, parents and students marched on the capital as a part of the Red for Ed Campaign, demanding more money for schools and paychecks.
Virginia educators say they are no longer asking but demanding more money for better schools and better salaries.
Fighting for public education. Teachers, administrators, students and parents call on the general assembly to increase school funding and teacher pay, which they say lags behind the national average. Virginia ranks 34th in the country.
Matthew Fentress, a teacher from Montgomery County met with his home Del. Nick Rush before the rally.
"We (are) also talking about adding counselors to the state budget. Healthcare is very important to our children's health. Nurses and more counselors in the building is a smart idea," said Fentress.
Just like the others here, Fentress says there's been no big raise or push for an increase in pay in at least the last 10 years.
"It took me and my wife 15 years to pay off student loans. I was telling Mr. Rush, I made more as a welder 15 years prior to going into public school teaching," said Fentress.
At the rally, it was announced there were over a thousand teacher vacancies in the Commonwealth this year.
Lezley Wilson is a second-grade teacher in Pulaski County. She says hiring the best and the brightest teachers for students is just one of their problems.
"We find it difficult to retain and attract. Students deserve the same as all other students in the Commonwealth," said Wilson. "We face declining enrollment and in many cases funding is based on enrollment. However, it takes just as much to educate a class of 16 as a class of 19."
Teachers, administrators and parents at the steps of the state Capitol say now is the time to fund the future. And that is only the beginning to better resources.
During the rally, the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee approved a 5 percent salary increase for public school teachers.