Fairfax parents lobby for more money for instructional coaches and language program

Fairfax County parents and teachers rallied at a Tuesday night budget hearing to advocate for more money for instructional coaches— who collaborate with teachers in the classroom— and to expand the district’s world languages program.

About 40 speakers addressed the school board to press for changes to the system’s proposed $2.5 billion budget for the next school year.

Several teachers said that instructional coaches helped them improve the educational experience for their students.

Those who spoke on behalf of expanding the district’s world languages program, which provides foreign language instruction for elementary school students, said such programs are important as the business world becomes more global and work places become become more international. The proposed budget reduces funding for expansion of the program to $300,000 from $1 million.

One parent used a joke to make his point.

“What do you call a person who speaks three languages?” “Trilingual.”

“What do you call a person who speaks two languages?” “Bilingual.”

“What do you call a person who speaks one language?” “American.”

Michael Hairston, president of the Fairfax Education Association, the county’s largest teachers union, told the board that his members were owed raises. In the proposed budget, teachers would receive a two percent pay increase in January.

“They expect better from their elected officials,” Hairston said. “They work in the eighth richest state and one of the richest counties in the nation. . . I’m embarrassed.”

The board is slated to vote on the budget May 23.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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