Author

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.

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 […]

$1 billion in state funding to Virginia universities aimed at creating workers for Amazon, other tech firms

By: - November 7, 2019

ETTRICK — To fulfill Amazon’s need for workers with advanced technology skills as well as those of other tech employers, the state is investing $1 billion over 20 years at Virginia colleges and universities.  The state will spend the money on schools that have committed to producing a certain number of graduates in computer science-related […]

Five things Northam says he will (and maybe won’t) do with a Democratic majority

By: - November 6, 2019

For the first time in 26 years, Democrats will have complete legislative control and an ally in the Executive Mansion. It means the policies and proposals that have floundered under a Republican majority stand a chance, as long as it gets the final approval of Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature. “I think Virginians spoke yesterday,” Northam […]

Virginia Explained: In the wake of a seismic election, here’s how potential recounts will work

By: - November 6, 2019

Voting may be over and Democrats appear to have captured majorities in the House and Senate, but that doesn’t mean Virginia has official election winners yet. That will be formally declared Nov. 18, when the state Board of Elections certifies all elections. Before that, local elected officials need to count write-in votes and deal with […]

Some voters got the wrong ballots in Stafford, again

By: - November 5, 2019

While voting got off to a mostly uneventful start across the state, there was some déjà vu from the 2017 legislative elections in one county. In Stafford County, some early-morning voters in six precincts received the wrong ballots. State elections officials are still investigating the problem, but it appears to have affected voters in House […]

‘The party needs to have a tough conversation’: Republicans play catch-up when it comes to diversity

By: - November 1, 2019

Compared to past cycles, the Virginia GOP is running a more diverse slate of candidates for this year’s General Assembly elections that includes 13 women who are not incumbents, two black men and one Asian man. But there’s still work that can, and should, be done on that front, some of the candidates said. “The […]

A governor-appointed commission begins work on improving black history education in Virginia

By: - October 29, 2019

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The commission charged with making recommendations to create a more accurate and complete representation of black history in state education guidelines plans to finish its work by the time the state makes changes to the Standards of Learning again. The 34-member Virginia Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth started about […]

Fully funding Virginia schools will cost $1 billion more per year. Can Democrats deliver on that campaign promise?

By: - October 25, 2019

In some competitive races around the state, Democratic candidates are promising to restore funding for public schools. But it’s not a small — or cheap — task. Last week, the state Board of Education recommended new standards for public schools that would require close to a billion more dollars a year if lawmakers chose to […]

Commission looking at racial disparities in state law plans to be almost finished in November

By: - October 24, 2019

The commission charged with finding racial inequities in state laws plans to be done with most of its work shortly after Election Day. Gov. Ralph Northam announced he was creating the commission in June and named the members in September. The move followed legislation in the last General Assembly session carried by Sen. Lionel Spruill, […]

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Was switch on gun violence prevention grant ‘logistical’ or political?

By: - October 22, 2019

Before the state’s top elected officials called on lawmakers to address what they called Virginia’s gun violence emergency over the summer, Attorney General Mark Herring decided not to reapply for a federal grant to pay for a long-running violence reduction program in the state. Instead, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is overseeing the […]

Virginia considers deemphasizing test scores in teacher evaluations

By: - October 17, 2019

Virginia teachers are cheering a proposal to make student test scores less of a consideration when evaluating how effective they are in the classroom. The proposal, which the Board of Education could approve next month, would let local school boards decide how much test scores factor into annual evaluations as long as it’s at least […]

Republican delegate claims a $44,000 Democratic donation; Dems call it an ’embarrassing ploy’

By: - October 16, 2019

Virginia Beach Republican Del. Glenn Davis came up with a way to narrow an almost $300,000 fundraising difference between him and his opponent, Karen Mallard: claim a donation from the Democratic Party worth three-and-a-half times more than what his own party contributed in September. Last month, Davis reported a $44,000 contribution from the Democratic Party […]