The results of the school accreditation race have been released, and the persistent failure of some schools triggers a discussion about Governor McDonnell's program to "takeover" schools in Alexandria, Petersburg, and Norfolk.
The "Opportunity Educational Institution" is a new school division whose single purpose would be to oversee failing schools. The Virginia School Board Association and the City of Norfolk are testing the program's constitutionality.
The reality is that the state has taken many steps, including court orders, to address and fix failing schools. Whether or not it is found to be constitutional, Governor McDonnell's move was an effort to get someone to pay attention to the problem.
As a state function the young people in Petersburg should have no less an opportunity to be well educated than children in Falls Church. But maybe there are some other approaches that should be considered as well:
1) Fairfax City has schools and a school board but no students…they are educated by the Fairfax County…
2) Maybe schools that don't work should not be "reconstituted" but simply closed…
3) Perhaps we should contract private sector models that work, and
4) why not incentivize high performing divisions to "takeover" a failing school in a neighboring community.
Better yet, add Governor McDonnell's proposal to a menu of options for failing schools…and prohibit localities from simply engaging in the annual right of apologetics.