Last month Gov. Terry McAuliffe inexplicably vetoed a bill that would have increased, ever so slightly, the range of options available to students in the public schools. The measure would have allowed for the creation of regional charter schools in areas where the traditional schools receive failing marks year after year.
The governor’s argument was that the proposal would somehow undermine the public schools — and never mind that charter schools are public schools.
To children trapped in schools that aren’t teaching them, this is the equivalent of saying lifeboats undermined the Titanic.
For a much more enlightened approach to education, Virginia should look to Arizona, whose governor has just signed into law what amounts to a universal system of school choice. The program started as a limited effort to help certain students with special needs and those stuck in low-performing schools. It will now be available to all students, although enrollment will be capped.
Arizona’s program involves education savings accounts, which operate much like medical savings accounts. Parents receive 90 percent of the state’s per-pupil expenditure, which currently translates to about $5,300 for a regular student and $14,000 for a special-needs student. The parents can then spend the money on private school, tutoring, books, and other educational services.
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