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Legislative black caucus opposes McDonnell's education package

Anita Kumar

For the second time this week, the legislative black caucus has come out against an education proposal pushed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

This time, the group opposes his plan to create virtual schools in which students can learn outside traditional classrooms and laboratory schools that would benefit from partnerships with Virginia colleges and universities.

"We simply cannot support an education reform package that does not adequately address the drastic budget cuts our schools are experiencing," Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth). "While we are debating numerous, painful and debilitating cuts to schools in our communities that will impact a generation of students, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus will not support any legislation that offers opportunities to a few and leaves the vast majority our children behind."

The caucus wrote in a statement today that it questions the purpose of McDonnell's education proposals when a multi-billion state budget shortfall will result in layoffs, larger classroom sizes and cuts to programs for at-risk children.

The decision means that the caucus is opposing McDonnell's entire education package. On Monday, it came out against his proposal to expand the number of charter schools in Virginia even though the schools are backed by President Obama and one of the caucus's own members, Del. Rosalyn R. Dance (D-Petersburg). 

Members of the black caucus and local officials worry about McDonnell's desire to give the state more control over charter schools applicants -- a move that also appears to contradict the governor's conservative philosophy. McDonnell's office has been working behind the scenes to negotiate a compromise with groups that represent teachers, school boards and superintendents -- that have been vocal in their opposition to the bill -- to return some power to the local boards and ease concerns about the state having final control over applications. The bill be heard Thursday.

We have asked for a response from the governor's office. We'll let you know when we receive one.

By Anita Kumar  |  February 24, 2010; 1:13 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Comments

"While we are debating numerous, painful and debilitating cuts to schools in our communities that will impact a generation of students, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus will not support any legislation that offers opportunities to a few and leaves the vast majority our children behind."

Since 1980, government spending on education, adjusted for inflation, has nearly doubled. But test scores have been flat for decades.

Choice works, and government monopolies don't. Education is too important to leave to a government monopoly.

Posted by: millionea7 | February 24, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Interested in discussing the corporate connections of the Congressional Black Caucus? This, as well as the lack of a diverse tenured faculty among professors of color in Boston area universities, is the topic of discussion tonight, Thursday the 25th, on Basic Black! Join us for our broadcast at 7:30pm on Channel 2 in Boston or LIVE at www.basicblack.org. You can also participate in a live chat at www.basicblack.org during the show!

Posted by: saltzmas | February 25, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I do not wish to diminish the needs of the vast majority of school children in the state of Virginia; however, there are -- on average -- about 20% of school aged children whose needs simply cannot be met in a traditional classroom setting.

For years, depending upon where we live, we "outliers" have been met with rigid resistance in our state. In fact, when contemplating Kindergarten for my oldest child I was yold by a county school official that the school could NOT meet his educational needs, and that I should home school him. Others have been told by teachers and administrators that they "couldn't slow the classroom down just for" a child. These "outliers" -- children outside the average -- whether they learn a bit more slowly, learn more rapidly, or are extremely capable in one subject area, and average, or below in another deserve educational options, and we have the ability in VA to offer these options through charter schools, magnet schools, and even virtual schools.

All children deserve the best education Virginia can afford to provide, whether that's the traditional classroom or a different alternative. To oppose these options because of a fear of a return to segregation, or "elitist" schools, or even additional strain on budgets and communities ignores the very evidence to the contrary and again refuses to serve the minority group of non-traditional learners.

We have a duty to all children in VA, not merely those who "conform" to our idea of how children should learn. It's time Virginians stepped up to the plate and embraced the opportunity to do more for all children -- especially when it does not add to budgetary strain.

Posted by: lisakanak | February 27, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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