Suffolk children deserve opportunity to succeed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

Certainly, I did fund the sign on Highway 17. Yes, I did include three faces on the billboard – Steve Herbert, Calvin Jones and Dana Dickens.

Flattery was not the intent, nor was the perceived personal attacks. They were chosen for the strength each one possesses with regards to their role in determining city policies and practices. Their individual lobbying power is what is needed for Suffolk’s school system to prevail.

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The intent was also to bring awareness to our citizens concerning inadequate school funding. Our city leaders are tasked with building a first class city. In order to accomplish that, they must beat the best. Both Virginia Beach’s and Chesapeake’s financial contributions amount to more than 40 percent of their school budgets for education. Suffolk’s financial contribution to the school budget is 30.5 percent, one of the lowest in the area.

Experienced teachers in Suffolk make as much as $13,000 less than experienced teachers in Virginia Beach. If in fact, you get what you pay for, then we are definitely setting up our children for failure.

I believe there is a correlation between teacher salaries and Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores. Of the 130 schools in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, only three schools are not fully accredited. Suffolk has seven out of 19 schools that are not fully accredited.

What’s needed for Suffolk’s children to succeed is our council members to furnish them with the best teachers. Instead we have become a training ground for the wonderful teachers who are now educating the children in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

We need to stop the exodus of teachers and the one way to accomplish that is to pay the same salaries as our competitors.

We need to give our students the opportunity to experience educational success. Let that be the driving force in determining the upcoming budget. If believing is achieving, it is important to focus our intent on a positive outcome.

John Dodson