Sen. Mark Obenshain: It’s Time for Charter Schools in Virginia
Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, delivered this week’s Virginia Republican Address.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Hello and welcome to the first installment of this year’s weekly Virginia Republican Address.
I’m Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, Co-Chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus.
In his State of the Commonwealth Address this week, Governor McAuliffe said that Virginia ‘should invest in smart, innovative programs that get results for the students.’
I agree with that statement. But, Governor McAuliffe failed to mention that Virginia is under-utilizing a successful, smart, innovative education reform: charter schools.
Charter schools will provide Virginia’s parents with options for where their children attend school.
They provide greater choice for parents and strong value for taxpayers.
And, charter schools are already in working in other states, providing a quality education to over 2 million school-aged Americans.
In Virginia, though, there’s been a lot of resistance to this innovation. As a result, our state consistently ranks near the bottom in both enrollment and in the number of charter schools.
Because of resistance to this reform, Virginia has just nine charter schools in the entire state. For comparison, Maryland has more than five times as many and North Carolina has fourteen times the number of charter schools as Virginia.
Education reform and innovation is flourishing, but Virginia is falling behind.
We have an opportunity to fix that this year. During this session I am sponsoring legislation that would give you the opportunity to vote to amend the Constitution of Virginia to make it easier to establish public charter schools.
Senate Joint Resolution 6 will put this issue directly to the voters in this November’s election. It would provide a new route to establishing public charter schools that would overcome the current hurdles. As a result, a lot of Virginia’s kids – and their parents – would have access to proven educational reforms that are already working in other states. And it won’t take away local control.
Education is always a top priority of Republican legislators. And as champions of educational reform and innovation, we’ll keep fighting to ensure Virginia’s children get the best education available.
I’m Senator Mark Obenshain, and I thank you for watching.”