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Virginia's New Governor to Champion Charters

Besides the 10 or so states that don't permit charter schools at all, Virginia ranks as one of the least friendly jurisdictions for the publicly funded, autonomous schools. Local school boards, which act as the only charter authorizers in Virginia right now, have approved just four around the state.

Could that be changing soon? Newly installed Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to unveil an education reform package later today in Richmond (where the weather apparently isn't as bad as it is here in Washington) that will include a proposal to expand the state's tiny charter sector.

If Gov. McDonnell succeeds, it could help Virginia's bid for federal Race to the Top funds. According to The Washington Post, the state's application for Round One in the $4 billion competition is a bit lackluster. State EdWatch will update with the details of the governor's proposal later today, if our power stays on through blizzard-like conditions!

Meanwhile in New York, the various charter-authorizing entities are running up against the caps imposed on them for approving new charters, according to the New York Post. No doubt that the charter drama there, which is caught up in the uncertainty over Gov. David Paterson's job security, will hold our attention for a while.

UPDATE: Gov. McDonnell rolled out his pro-charter legislative package as planned this afternoon and had an array of Democrats and Republicans alongside him to announce it, including former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder. At the heart of his plans to expand the charter sector is legislation that would shift most of the chartering authority in Virginia to the state board of education. The governor will also push to establish virtual schools, as well as "laboratory" schools run by some of the state's colleges and universities.

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