Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal visited Richmond Friday, joining Gov. Bob McDonnell to rally support for education reform. Virginia could be enacting some of Jindal's signature plans for failing schools, a priority McDonnell put in no uncertain terms.
"The time for tolerance is over," McDonnell said at a news conference Friday. "The argument of, ‘we need more money and more time,' will not work. We need to find another way."
McDonnell's most controversial plan creates a new school division, known as the Opportunity Educational Institution. The new body would exercise its authority to enact reforms from Richmond, and would take over under performing schools.
The idea has been in place for seven years in Louisiana, a program Gov. Jindal credits for turning around New Orleans schools.
According to a November report on New Orleans state controlled schools, Louisiana rated their overall performance a "D" in 2012. Eighty-three percent of Crescent City's state-run schools were ranked "D" or "F."
"There's more work to be done in New Orleans," Jindal said Friday. "But you look where New Orleans was, you look at the percentage of kids who were on grade level according to national statistics, and that's doubled in five years.
Performance has improved, but New Orleans schools still rank among the lowest in the state. Jindal and McDonnell also discussed giving Virginia schools "A" through "F" rating grades.
"We have the simple concept of turning convoluted ratings into something everyone understands," McDonnell said. "If parents see they have kids in a school with a bad grade, they'll become more involved in parent teacher associations, and turning things around."
Critics contend Virginia's proposed Opportunity Educational Institution is not constitutional, and takes away too much authority from local school districts. If the measure passes in the General Assembly before the end of February, two Petersburg schools could face a state takeover.
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