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For all Virginians

Gillespie: The Schools Virginia Kids Deserve

When it comes to providing better opportunities for our future generations, the proper role of government is not to guarantee equality of outcomes, but equality of opportunity. That means we have a moral duty to ensure all children have access to an excellent public school. From early childhood education through high school, our students need a thriving education system to provide them every opportunity to succeed.

Despite the hard work of dedicated teachers across the commonwealth, Virginia’s schools have declined in the past several years, dropping 10 spots in Education Week rankings from the fourth position to 14th. Just 10 years ago, we were ranked number one in the country. This is infuriating, and we need to fix it.

Today, I put forward a plan to provide every student across Virginia with an equal opportunity to succeed in the classroom and to become college- and career-ready. The plan consists of four pillars I believe are essential in addressing the many challenges we’re currently facing: teacher leadership, innovation, more opportunities and excellence.

Virginia is blessed with teachers and school leaders who view their work as a calling, and we must do more to support them. As governor, I will advocate for innovative funding models that put more money into teacher pay, put forward legislation to evaluate and reduce paperwork required of teachers and implement career ladders so our best teachers are incentivized to stay in the classroom. Taking care of our students means taking care of our teachers, and that will be a top priority of my administration.

We all want to challenge children to reach as high as they can, but an overly restrictive system inhibits teachers from pushing their students to pursue their passions. That is why, as governor, I will make sure we provide educational resources that meet the needs of all of our students. Whether our children choose college, the workforce or the military after they graduate, schools under my plan will have them adequately prepared.

Every child is unique, which is why families should have a variety of options when deciding where to have their children educated. Through more opportunities, we can improve public schools and provide families greater choices. As governor, I will diversify educational opportunities by strengthening our charter schools, expanding the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit, establishing education savings accounts and promoting policies that are fair to homeschool families — like the Tebow Bill. We will accommodate both special needs students and high ability students.

If I’m entrusted with the governorship of our commonwealth, our next generation will continue to do better than the generation that came before us. That’s only possible when students have access to an excellent education. I’ll work to make sure that all students — no matter where they live — have the opportunity to reach their full potential.