- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Assembly passes state takeover of failing schools
Question of the Day
The House of Delegates voted 64-34 to pass the bill, a major component of the Republican governor’s education reform agenda. The Senate previously passed the measure on a tie-breaking vote by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. It now goes to McDonnell for his signature.
The legislation will take effect only if the state budget — now the subject of negotiations — includes the $600,000 Mr. McDonnell proposed to get the program started.
Louisiana's statewide Recovery School District served as the model for Mr. McDonnell’s proposal to create an Opportunity Education Institution to take control of failing schools. The Virginia legislation establishes an 11-member board to try to turn around schools that repeatedly fail to meet accreditation standards.
Six schools currently meet the criteria for state takeover, but none will be transferred until after the 2013-2014 school year.
Proponents of the legislation said those few schools have been allowed to fail for too long, shortchanging students who are entitled to a quality education.
“With today’s vote in the House, Virginia sends a message that the status quo is not acceptable in chronically failing schools,” Mr. McDonnell said in a statement. “We have laid out a clear path to turn around those schools and provide the students who attend them with the world-class educational opportunities they deserve.”
Delegate Kaye Kory, Fairfax Democrat, complained that parents and other residents would be excluded from efforts to improve the schools.
“This bill is an outrageous intrusion into local governance,” she said. “Six schools being taken over with this process is six too many.”
Organizations representing Virginia teachers, school board and administrators opposed the bill.
Delegate Greg Habeeb, Salem Republican, said student performance has improved in Louisiana’s Recovery School District. Several legislators visited that state last year for a firsthand look at the program, which Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal touted at a news conference with Mr. McDonnell earlier this month. Mr. Jindal said 77 percent of students in New Orleans were attending failing schools in 2005. That’s been reduced to 29 percent, he said.
However, New Orleans schools run by the Recovery School District still have a D grade on average while those outside of New Orleans received an F in the latest round of grades released in October. Sixty-eight of the 80 schools overseen by Louisiana’s statewide system are in New Orleans.
The Senate, meanwhile, voted 32-7 to pass a competing plan to deal with failing schools without a state takeover. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kenneth Alexander of Norfolk, would require intensified efforts by state and local school officials to turn around failing schools.
“This gets at the same problem without turning the school system upside down,” said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat.
Republican opponents of the bill argued that it wouldn’t do much that can’t already be done.
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Chris Matthews: GOP less patriotic than South African white apartheid leaders
- MILLER: Obamacare enrollees include 101 members of the House of Representatives
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
White House pets gone wild!