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September 12, 2013

Selling Virginia’s Kids Short

(revised 9/17/13)

Virginia has cut per-pupil investment in K-12 schools by over 11 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than all but 10 other states, according to a report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

State revenue declined sharply during the recession. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, Virginia relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education.

Yet even as revenues have begun to recover, Virginia has only restored a small fraction of the education funding that was cut during the downturn, leaving spending per student this year $695 below pre-recession levels when you take inflation into account.

Virginia’s K-12 education cuts hurt the state’s economy in the short- and long-term. The cuts slowed the economic recovery by causing both job loss as school districts throughout Virginia reduced teachers and support staff.

Reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences.  A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state’s ability to produce workers with the skills needed to get ahead. 

At a time when the commonwealth is trying to produce graduates that are “college or career ready,” Virginia should be investing more — not less — to ensure our kids get a “world-class education.”

–Sara Okos, Policy Director

The Commonwealth Institute

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