Sears argues university-run charter schools, also known as lab schools, could help increase diversity in higher education.
(The Center Square) – As Virginia lawmakers continue to debate the specifics of a proposed lab school program, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears (R) is arguing university-run charter schools, also known as lab schools, could help increase diversity in higher education.
Lab schools would be public K-12 schools run by a university or other higher education institution, which would focus on testing different education models and studying how various models affect students. Currently, there are no lab schools in Virginia and there are fewer than 10 charter schools.
Sears signed onto an amicus brief, which urged the courts to halt certain affirmative action programs in higher education, arguing that such rules discriminate against certain students based on race. In a statement about the brief, she argued that lab schools, among other things, would be better alternatives to increase diversity.
“It is time to end the policies of college selection based on race, which is counter to equal treatment under the law,” Sears said in the statement.
“University-sponsored and supported charter schools, the expansion of scholarships for low-income students, and improved student testing methods will help provide increased diversity at universities,” Sears added, “The right to a good education doesn’t come at the expense of denying another the right as well. We learn from history that we don’t learn from history. We are not about to deny educational rights to Asian children. Rather, we must ensure that all children have access to educational opportunities.”
The Center Square reached out to Sears’s office for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin entered into a partnership with 30 higher education institutions to lay the groundwork for K-12 lab schools in the commonwealth. However, he needs the legislature to approve a plan before such a policy could go into effect. Although there is bipartisan support for a program, lawmakers still have some disagreements about the specifics.
The House of Delegates, which is controlled by Republicans, passed a version that would allow public, non-profit and for-profit institutions to run lab schools. The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, passed a version that would prohibit for-profit institutions from taking part in the program. The House version would also divert funding away from the current public schools based on how many students attend lab schools, but the Senate would ensure that current public schools do not lose funding, even if they lose students.
Lawmakers are planning to return to Richmond on June 1 to address the budget and other bills that have not yet passed both chambers of the General Assembly.