- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2002

RICHMOND Gov. Mark R. Warner appointed a former state legislator and a local School Board member to the State Board of Education to replace two members whose terms expired, including board President Kirk T. Schroder.
Diane T. Atkinson and Mr. Schroder, the chief architect of Virginia's stringent Standards of Learning testing program, were appointed by Mr. Warner's predecessor, Republican James S. Gilmore III. Their terms ended yesterday, and Mr. Warner named former Delegate Thomas M. Jackson of Carroll County and Richmond School Board member Mark E. Emblidge to replace them.
Mr. Schroder wanted another term but said he understood the Democratic governor's decision to begin installing his own team. Mr. Warner will have control of the board after the terms of three more members expire next year.
"The governor and I met and have had several conversations, and he has afforded me every courtesy and respect anyone could ask for in this situation," Mr. Schroder said. "I've enjoyed this position and given it my best."
Some educators lobbied Mr. Warner to replace Mr. Schroder, who has taken much of the heat from SOL critics who say the program puts too much emphasis on rote memorization and end-of-course tests.
"We did talk with the governor about board appointments," said Jean Bankos, president of the Virginia Education Association. "There was no letter-writing campaign, no hue and outcry. We had discussions about possible folks to serve."
The VEA endorsed Mr. Warner's candidacy last fall and was disappointed when the new governor decided the state could not afford to raise teachers' salaries because of a state budget shortfall approaching $5 billion over the next 21/2 years.
Mrs. Bankos said Mr. Schroder "has been a very moderating influence" on the conservative board. "He has done his job well, but when your time's up, it's up."
Mark C. Christie, a steadfast defender of the SOLs, is Mr. Schroder's likely successor as board president.
"The votes are there," Mr. Schroder said. "Mark Christie will be an excellent president. He's played an important role in the accomplishments of the past four years."
Mr. Christie is a professor of constitutional law at Virginia Commonwealth University and counsel to House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., Amherst Republican. He was chief counsel to the governor during Republican George F. Allen's term.
"I'm sad about Kirk, but it's the governor's prerogative," Mr. Christie said. "It's hard to describe how much good he's done for public education. But Mark Emblidge and Tom Jackson are outstanding people, and I look forward to working with them."
Mr. Jackson was one of the legislature's leading advocates of more state support for public school construction. He did not seek re-election last year after his district was redrawn by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

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