- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

RICHMOND (AP) — Salaries of Virginia's public school teachers and administrators should be raised to the top 10 percent nationally, a coalition of education organizations said Wednesday.
The recommendation was one of many in the "Blueprint for Virginia Public Schools," a report compiled by organizations representing teachers, principals, superintendents and other education groups.
The organizations formed the Virginia Education Coalition to unify their efforts to improve the state's public schools, coalition President Edward Kelly said at a news conference at the state Capitol.
Mr. Kelly, superintendent of Prince William County public schools, said copies of the report have been mailed to Virginia Board of Education members, state legislators and the two candidates for governor, Republican Mark L. Earley and Democrat Mark R. Warner.
Mr. Earley and Mr. Warner have pledged to raise teacher salaries at least to the national average over the next four years. Mr. Kelly said that's not enough.
When policy-makers talk about improving student achievement, "they're not talking about raising their performance to the national average, are they?" Mr. Kelly said.
Virginia teachers in 1999-2000 earned an average of $38,690 a year, or $3,117 below the national average, according to the National Education Association.
The report also calls for improved instructional programming, comprehensive and fair assessment programs for students and teachers, equitable state funding for poor and wealthy school districts, better collaboration among education policy-makers, more money for technology and state-funded programs to promote community involvement.
Mr. Kelly said he could not say how much the programs would cost or where the state would get the money.
Alfred Butler, executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, said the initiatives clearly could not be implemented all at once.
"We'll just try to chip away at this," he said.

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