Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.

Advocates are gearing up to pressure lawmakers to fully fund education for another budget cycle

By: - January 7, 2020

For years, Democratic lawmakers called on Republicans — who had legislative and budgetary control — to fully fund public education to the threshold set by the state Board of Education. But if Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget proposal is approved as presented, the new Democratic majority would still fall short, advocates say, despite investments Northam calls […]

Democrats will weigh free community college, transparency measures, among other education initiatives

By: - January 3, 2020

Republicans made college affordability a priority in their time as the majority party and used those successes — like last year’s tuition freeze — in campaigns. This year, the new Democratic majority will consider the historic undertaking of making community college free for some students and decide if some of the Republicans’ past efforts to […]

A Republican senator wants students to approve tuition increases before governing boards do

By: - December 24, 2019

A proposal from a Republican senator would require student approval before a public college or university approves a tuition raise. Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, wants tuition hikes to go to the students who will have to pay for it before a governing board votes. His legislation, which he introduced last year too and calls “crazy,” […]

‘Kinship care’ foster families would get money in proposed budget

By: - December 18, 2019

Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed spending nearly $17 million over two years to help families who take in relatives’ children before they enter the foster care system. Tens of thousands of Virginia children are being raised by relatives instead of being put into foster care. But unlike formal foster families, these kinship families don’t receive […]

The governor wants to give Virginia’s public HBCUs extra money. Why do they need it?

By: - December 18, 2019

Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities have some of the lowest four-and five-year graduation rates in the state, falling well below 50% at most of the schools. It’s an outcome driven in part by decades of inadequate funding for the large populations of low-income, first-generation and minority students the institutions serve, Gov. Ralph Northam said […]

Proposed pay raise would still leave the average Virginia teacher salary below national average

By: - December 17, 2019

Teachers earning average pay in Virginia will get nearly $1,500 closer to earning the national average teacher salary under Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget proposal. Northam has proposed using $145 million for a 3% teacher pay raise. It’s part of a $1.2 billion package of K-12 education initiatives the governor is asking lawmakers to consider in […]

Three things Northam wants to do to lower maternal mortality rates

By: - December 9, 2019

Black women in Virginia are three times more likely to die after giving birth than white women, a disparity Gov. Ralph Northam has said he wants to eliminate by 2025. To do that, Northam has come up with a $22 million, two-year plan he introduced Monday in a room of toddlers, babies and their parents. […]

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, expect to pay Virginia’s new internet sales tax

By: - November 28, 2019

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some online shoppers might notice they’re paying more state taxes.  This is the first holiday season online shopping regulars might notice the tax, which stems from a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled states could collect sales tax from companies that don’t have physical locations in said states. Virginia […]

Meet the group that wants to be the first Cherokee tribe recognized by Virginia

By: - November 28, 2019

November is the busiest month of the year for Wolf Creek Cherokee Chief Terry Price. He travels to military installations, schools and community events around the state in between running his heating and cooling business. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, he’s back at the Wolf Creek Cherokee Museum in Henrico County for the tribe’s traditional […]

Dorms at community college? Virginia is considering it.

By: - November 21, 2019

The state board that oversees community colleges will explore what on-campus or nearby student housing could look like at the system’s 23 schools. Chancellor Glenn DuBois, who is in charge of leading the community college system as it anticipates a decline in enrollment, said he thinks housing would draw more students to certain campuses. “Northern […]

What’s the average teacher salary in Virginia? Depends who does the math, lawmakers find.

By: - November 20, 2019

NORFOLK — To help lawmakers tackle a bipartisan goal of raising teacher pay, state budget staff tried to untangle for them exactly what the average teacher’s pay is in the state. The takeaway: There are different ways to calculate that number, but it’s clear some districts fall far below any of those averages while others […]

Fixing the formula: How the state plans to get more financial aid to the students who need it most

By: - November 14, 2019

New changes to the formula that determines how much financial aid money colleges get from the state will redirect money to low-income students.  The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia allocates aid money from the state to each public college and university, which is then responsible for awarding it to students. The council has […]