Lily wants to make the 41st District a place for folks to thrive in all stages of life. That includes students, working families, parents, and our seniors. Here’s her vision for Virginia's students:
Making Teacher Pay Competitive
Virginia’s teachers make well below the national average, and our rate of pay is moving further away from that average every year. As a consequence, more teachers than are leaving the profession than entering it, and we face a looming teacher shortage in our schools. It’s important that we provide a world-class education for the next generation of Virginians, and for that, we need world-class teachers.
As your delegate, Lily will work to make sure teacher funding is competitive by helping schools that struggle to retain teachers tap into funds for retention pay, salary increases and bonuses. She'll also push for tuition forgiveness for teachers that agree to spend five years teaching in underserved communities. She'll make it easier for potential career-switchers who worked in science, math and technology to be licensed to teach in our schools. She'll also make sure that we have adequate funding for other professionals that our kids rely on, like school nurses, psychologists and school bus drivers.
Leveling the Playing Field
Schools work hard to stretch every dollar they receive. However, they don't start from the same place. Virginia currently ranks near-last in per-pupil state funding for our schools; districts have to make up the gaps through local property taxes in Virginia. This means that wealthier students whose parents have expensive homes go to beautiful, well-funded schools, and kids whose parents have less go to schools that struggle to provide basics.
This exacerbates so many preexisting divides in our society–the poverty gap, the racial achievement gap, the urban-rural divide–and it prevents us from living in a Commonwealth where every kid gets a fair shot. Lily proposes a hybrid model of school funding: a state property tax assessment to be divided among our schools, and local property assessments determined and controlled by local governments. This helps ensure that schools will get enough baseline funding to meet the needs of their students without sacrificing local control and local priorities.
Building Schools for the 21st Century
A 21st Century education requires a 21st Century school. That means, at minimum, that all students must be able to access the internet, and Lily make it a priority to get universal broadband in Virginia schools. The General Assembly just approved one of the largest funding packages for school infrastructure in our history; it is now our job to make sure that those funds are spent wisely, equitably and well. Our school buildings are aging rapidly, and the Virginia Department of Education recently estimated that it would cost $25 billion to repair and modernize every school. Our recent funding package provided just 5% of that, so it is incumbent on us to make sure that that money is directed at areas of greatest need.
Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline
The school-to-prison pipeline, where marginalized and disadvantaged kids are systematically remanded from public schools into the justice system, is one of the greatest injustices built into our education system. The good news is that we have the tools at our disposal to reverse this trend, and in fact, many school districts within Virginia are taking important steps that are positively addressing the issue. As your delegate, Lily will look for opportunities to support and scale programs like:
Fairfax and Alexandria’s programs to integrate restorative justice into their disciplinary strategies, diverting kids who might otherwise be channeled into the criminal justice system.
Charlottesville’s initiative to reduce the presence of police in schools, while also increasing funding for school counselors and mental health professionals.
Statewide initiatives to ensure that kids are going to world-class schools with world-class teachers, no matter how much poverty exists in their community.
Richmond’s revision of its disciplinary policies to eliminate discriminatory practices and help ensure that all students can be safe and supported in their schools.