HomeSchool Reform NewsYoungkin, GOP Fighting for Virginia Charter School Expansion

Youngkin, GOP Fighting for Virginia Charter School Expansion

(The Center Square) – One of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s top priorities during his campaign was parental rights in the education system, which he has tried to promote through expanded charter schools and other means.

Charter school expansion has garnered support from legislative Republicans, but has drawn opposition from legislative Democrats. Senate Democrats blocked one bill to expand charter schools during the committee process and a House bill to do the same is currently in the committee process. Democrats control the Senate, but Republicans control the House.

There are fewer than 10 charter schools in Virginia.

The legislation that’s still alive, House Bill 344, would allow the Board of Education to approve the creation of charter schools without local input. Current law only gives local school boards the authority to establish charter schools. Under the proposed change, any decision by the board would be final and the local school board would not be able to revoke permission of the charter school or appeal the decision of the board. Virginia Senate Bill 635 would grant school boards similar authority.

Legislation blocked in the Senate committee process, Senate Bill 125, would have done something similar. It would have allowed the board to establish regional charter school divisions in areas that have more than 3,000 students and have accreditation denied status in two of the last three years. It would authorize the school board to approve charter school applications in these regions.

The Virginia Education Association, which is a public teachers’ union, issued a form with its stances on various pieces of legislation, coming out against every measure that would expand charter schools in the commonwealth. The Virginia School Boards Association, which represents school boards, has also come out in opposition to such legislation.

Stacy Haney, the chief lobbyist for the VSBA, spoke against Senate Bill 125 during the committee process.

“[The bill] grants the authority to establish charters to the Board of Education,” Haney said. “We believe that that decision is best made at the local level by school boards largely locally elected that know their communities and know the needs of their communities. I will say that this notion that school boards are denying charters and school boards are the reason that there aren’t charter schools is not correct. …No one has even filed a charter application in the commonwealth of Virginia since 2016.”

Haney said she believes one reason there have not been a lot of charter school applications is because Virginia already has good public schools.

More than a week ago, Youngkin issued a school choice proclamation, in which he set a goal to establish 20 new charter schools in the commonwealth and create a partnership with universities to establish lab schools. He proposed $150 million in the state budget to create the new education opportunities, which he argued would give parents more choice when deciding their children’s education.

“Choice and innovation within public education is vital to achieving [my education goals],” Youngkin said. That’s why together we will not only raise standards and raise teacher pay, but we will invest $150 million to kick start 20 new charter schools in the Commonwealth. We must empower parents and students with choice and innovation in K-12 public education.”

The governor established a partnership with nearly 30 colleges, which expressed their intent to work together to establish lab schools. These schools are meant to offer innovative learning experiences for children.

Democratic lawmakers have cautioned against the governor’s school choice proposals, arguing that they would divert money away from public schools. Republican lawmakers and Youngkin argued charter schools are also public schools.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

Tyler Arnold
Tyler Arnold
Tyler Arnold is a reporter for The Center Square.



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