Article VIII Section 1 of the Virginia Constitution states:
“The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained.”
Article VIII Section 2 states:
“Standards of Quality [SOQ] for the school divisions shall be determined and prescribed from time to time by the Board of Education, subject to revision only by the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall determine the manner in which funds are to be provided for the cost of maintaining an educational program meeting the prescribed standards of quality, and shall provide for the apportionment of the cost of such program between the Commonwealth and the local units of government comprising such school divisions.”
The Virginia Constitution charges the Virginia Board of Education (BOE) with determining and prescribing the standards of quality subject to revision only by the General Assembly. In that role, the BOE has said that the General Assembly is not correctly calculating the cost of education to achieve the Standards of Quality and has directed the General Assembly to “eliminate the methodology in the Appropriation Act that artificially caps the number of state-funded support staff” along with proposing staffing standards for school counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, principals, and assistant principals. By failing to act on the Board’s proposed changes, the General Assembly has not revised the standards, and they certainly have not funded them.
The Commonwealth of Virginia must be held accountable and pressured to fulfill its constitutional obligation and provide the education funding that our constitution dictates and our students deserve.
The time to act is now.
If Virginia doesn’t increase investments in K-12 education today – while the economy is strong – we never will. With a strong voice and a united front, we can rally support for the General Assembly to identify the true cost of K-12 education and then live up to their obligation to fully fund their share of that cost.