Charter School Bill Clears State Senate

Feb 5, 2015

After a very spirited debate in the state Senate, charter school proponents win a major victory. Senators passed a resolution to amend the state constitution to give the Board of Education authority to establish charter schools in Virginia. 

Flickr user Ryan McGilchrist
Credit Creative Commons, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Bill supporters argue that Virginia has only seven charter schools, but a far greater number of jurisdictions need more options for students with substandard public schools. Senator Tom Garrett agrees that socio-economic status should not determine a child's quality of education.

"We can't raise generation after generation of young people who learn through observation that people in their neighborhood just don't succeed. THAT'S unsustainable."

But opponents say Virginia should invest more money in teacher pay and public schools--not gamble on charters that MAY succeed. Senator Chap Petersen adds that state leaders should not make this decision.

"Getting rid of local control of schools is a MAJOR constitutional change as to what we do in Virginia. I think it would be a mistake."

The measure now heads to the House.

The amendment would still require General Assembly passage next year and voter approval before it could take effect.