Teachers Dress Down to Demonstrate Need for Raises

February 10, 2014

Walking the hallways at Woodson High School, it might be difficult to pick out some of the teachers from the swarms of students dressed in hoodies and sweat pants.

Instead of oxford shirts paired with neckties or blouses on top of dress slacks, about half of the Woodson faculty have been “dressing down” as part of a demonstration for better pay. The campaign, which members of the Fairfax County school’s English department helped organize, is gaining momentum as teachers at other schools are taking notice.

Drew Marvin, 41, has been sporting T-shirts in his English classes since last Monday. Katherine Sebunia, 34, now wears jeans and comfortable sneakers as she instructs her Woodson students.

“We want to help Fairfax understand what makes Fairfax such a great place to live, because it’s not mountain vistas or beachfront access. It’s world-class schools,” Marvin said. “And while the county Board of Supervisors says it’s world-class, our own teachers have to struggle to pay mortgages.”

Karen Garza, the county’s new school superintendent, has said that teacher compensation is one of her top priorities, and her proposed budget for next year includes $41 million in salary increases. But it is unclear if the county board will approve Garza’s budget or if the raises are realistic as Fairfax faces a budget crunch.

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