FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Virginia Green Party Calls for Modernized, Efficient Schools
Richmond, Virginia 2nd February 2018
The state of education in our commonwealth leaves a lot to be desired. Despite being one of the wealthiest states in the country, Virginia ranked 29th in teacher pay as of the 2013-2014 school year. 70% of our schools are more than 30 years old. Their leaky roofs and lack of air conditioning deny students quality instruction. Meanwhile our students are bring arrested at an insane rate. According to research from the University of Richmond, "Virginia tops the nation in the rate of referrals of students to law enforcement, at three times the national average." Of course, this lack of educational opportunity is not equally divided across the state. Students in large urban areas like Richmond and those in rural areas like Southwest Virginia are consistently denied the quality of education given to suburban children in Northern Virginia.
In Richmond, a coalition of citizens, recognizing a decades-old racial, socio-economic problem of neglected maintenance and lack of real investment in many public school buildings, successfully petitioned for and passed a voters’ referendum this past November which requires the Mayor and City Council of Richmond to put schools first in their budget considerations. This measure, now before the General Assembly as bill SB750, is a real populist challenge to an entrenched power structure that has a long history of promoting corporate welfare projects ahead of public interests. The Green Party of Virginia joins the Richmond Greens in endorsing the Put Schools First campaign and calling for passage of SB750. It also reiterates the Richmond Greens’ and local Sierra Club’s call for green building, energy conservation, and solar roofs to be part of school modernization. The fact is that localities all across the country are using solar schools to save on energy costs and move towards distributed, renewable energy, and our Virginia localities should do the same.
The Green Party of Virginia supports this referendum and other measures that will ensure educational equality across the state. We call on all legislators to vote in favor of SB750 that will force the Richmond city council to finally ensure that its residents have quality education, or explain why they cannot. It is time to dismantle the inequitable education system which has for so long acted as a monument to segregation and racism. Further, we demand passage of bills that will help stop the school-to-prison pipeline. One bill, HB 1600, would reduce the maximum time that a student could be suspended from school from 364 to 45 days. There is simply no reason for a student to miss an entire year of school. Another, HB 15, would require principals to deal with students in the school before involving the police. This would reduce the number of students in our jails. Finally, a number of bills, including HB 19 and HB 643 would reduce college tuition for many Virginia residents. These will be a good first step on the road to free higher education for all Virginians.
The Green Party strongly supports robust, free, and public education for all, and we call on the General Assembly to show they support the same by passing these bills, particularly SB750.
Green Party of Virginia
Richmond, VA - Ryan Wesdock, Press Secretary - 703-888-9852 - firstname.lastname@example.org