Change the charter school law to give students more options: A lesson from Virginia

Earlier this year, the Washington Post ran an editorial about charter school legislation in the Commonwealth in Virginia. The situation sounds fairly similar to what’s going on in Kansas. The Post has it right: If you wish to see more options available to students, expand the number of authorizers.

Here’s an excerpt:

WITHIN HOURS of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s announcement that he wants the state to be more welcoming to charter schools, there was expected pushback from critics who say Virginia already has some of the best schools in the country. They’re right — but that’s no reason to limit school innovation or to deny parents options for their children. Mr. McDonnell’s ambitious goals make sense for Virginia students, and the General Assembly should support them.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mr. McDonnell (R) unveiled a proposal last week that would, as The Post’s Anita Kumar reported, expand the number of charter schools by reforming the way the publicly funded but privately run schools are authorized. Currently, the power resides solely with local school boards, and because they see charters as competition they generally oppose them. The result is that Virginia has only three charters, as compared, for instance, with 58 in the District of Columbia.

As far as I know, Gov. McDonnell has not yet gotten his wish. But give him credit for making a proposal.

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