Governor unveils education reform package

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Governor Bob McDonnell said Wednesday, there's a wave of innovation in education reform and Virginia needs to be a part of it.  He hopes his package of proposals will help accomplish that mission.  The pieces of legislation are titled "The Opportunity to Learn," and include virtual school, college lab programs and charter school system changes.

Tracey Brockwell's 7-year old daughter Zora applied to Patrick Henry Charter School because she said, "I just like to discover new things!"

When it welcomes students for the first time this year, Patrick Henry will be one of only four charter schools in the entire commonwealth.  Brockwell said Virginians need more options like this one because not every student learns the same way.

"Some kids need to move around.  Some kids need to be outside.  They need other options, other than just sitting at a desk, everyone on page 37 in their math book," said Brockwell.  "Some kids actually have to experience it with their bodies and their hands and their minds."

The governor told supporters the commonwealth consistently has the weakest charter school laws in the country.

Under the new bill, proposed schools would have to submit applications to the Board of Education before applying to a local school board.  McDonnell says this could open the doors to $350M in federal money and transform Virginia into a state with a world class education system.

"While we're good we believe we can be even better," said McDonnell.  "I've said many times a young person ought to have their opportunities to pursue the American dream determined by their worth ethic and intellect, not their zip code."

Also included in the governor's plan is a bill to establish virtual programs in local school systems throughout the commonwealth.  The other proposal creates partnerships between universities and local school districts in lab programs.  McDonnell hopes all three plans will make it through the legislature this session.

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