Saturday, December 26, 2009

Virginians see chance for change in education

Retiring Del. Chris Saxman leading the charge

Retiring Del. Chris Saxman (R-Staunton), co-chairing the education transition team for Republican Gov-elect Bob McDonnell, recently talked with Ben DeGrow for the Heartland Institute about the direction of education in Virginia under new administration:
The impending arrival of a new administration in the Commonwealth of Virginia has raised school choice advocates’ hopes, but they don’t expect change to come quickly.

Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell handily defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds in the November 3 general election—shifting not only the party in power, but also Virginia’s education agenda.

“It’s going to be a change of direction, clearly,” said state Del. Chris Saxman (R-Staunton), who serves as co-chair of McDonnell’s K-12 education transition team.

Christian Braunlich, vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a think tank in Springfield, agrees.

“I think choice supporters are guardedly optimistic that there will be a better environment in which to advocate for school choice,” he said.

Saxman cautioned, however, that any changes to Virginia’s K-12 schooling policy will take time because of the considerable power of the nine-member State Board of Education. McDonnell will have the power to replace board members as their terms expire. Two complete their service in 2010, and three more in 2011.

“Changes in Virginia don’t come quickly,” Saxman said.
Del. Saxman has worked with school choice since his 2001 election to the General Assembly and has introducted successful legislation year after year in the House only to see it die once it got to the Senate. His team is currently looking at the possibility of online education, dropout prevention, merit pay, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) initiatives, public school accountability, tax credits, and more. It's an interesting article on a subject that may be of concern to the majority of Virginians.

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