Virginia passes new legislation expanding charter schools

Virginia has passed new legislation that will expand charter schools throughout the state. The bills are part of the Governor’s “Opportunity to Learn” agenda, focused on education reform.

The laws aim to improve the application and review process for public charter school applicants, as well as establishing uniform statewide input standards for the application process. Children will also be allowed to choose schools that fall outside their zip codes, expand college laboratory schools and improve and promote virtual learning.

Additionally, charter school applications that are denied or existing schools that fail the renewal process will now receive written reasons for such denial and can thereafter petition the local school board for reconsideration. The bills include provisions for public comment at all steps of the process for new and existing charter school applications and renewals. Final decisions will ultimately rest with the local school boards where the the school is applying.

The Governor also hopes to use the new laws to bolster the state’s Race To The Top application for federal education funding.

“Without a world-class education our young people will not be able to compete with their peers in the global marketplace. States that move proactively to bring innovation, competition and reform to their public schools are not only serving their young people well, they are improving their prospects for future economic prosperity and job-creation,” Governor McDonnell said.