"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Virginia's McDonnell Ready to Use State Power to Infuse Segregated Charter Schools

With only three charters opened in the last 12 years, the citizens of Virginia have demonstrated that they do not want charter schools. Governor McDonnell (R), however, sees things differently, and he is apparently willing to shelve his campaign lies about local control long enough to push his segregated corporate charter agenda down the throats of Virginia voters.
From the Washington Post:
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010

RICHMOND -- Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell often talks about his long-standing belief that government closest to the people governs best, a philosophy rooted in his conservative principles.

But when he began searching for a way to expand the number of charter schools in the state -- one of his top goals -- he turned not to local government but to the state.

McDonnell (R) proposed this month that those seeking permission to open charter schools -- a publicly funded, privately run education alternative -- be allowed to appeal to the state Board of Education if they are rejected by local school boards, which have the authority to approve or deny applications.

That proposal appears to contradict comments that he frequently made on the campaign trail and in his inaugural address last month.

"More often than not, Richmond knows better about the hopes and dreams of the people than Washington," McDonnell said Jan. 16. "And Galax and Fairfax and Virginia Beach know far better than Richmond."

. . . .

"It's not a good step in the right direction," said John Stevens, chairman of the Loudoun County School Board. "Education across the United States is a local matter."

Stevens (Potomac), a Democrat who runs with no party affiliation, said that he and his board support charter schools but that local officials, particularly in high-performing districts such as Loudoun, know how best to serve their students.

On Monday, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus criticized McDonnell's proposal, issuing a stinging statement that referred to the days of racial segregation. "This is as unconscionable as it is unconstitutional," said Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D-Richmond). "A lifetime of work to ensure equal access to education, democratic local control of our schools and the opportunity for every child to succeed is under attack."

Virginia's constitution requires that local school boards authorize charter schools. McDonnell does not propose changing the constitution but wants applications to be submitted to the state Board of Education for review and pre-certification recommendations before they go to local school boards.

Under McDonnell's plan, if a would-be charter is rejected by a local board, it could appeal to the state board, which would have the power to approve it. . . .

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