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Senate passes top-down charter school amendment on party-line vote

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteThe Senate voted 21-17 along party lines on Wednesday to approve Sen. Mark Obenshain’s (R – Rockingham) SJ 256, a constitutional amendment that would allow the State Board of Education, subject to guidelines set by the General Assembly, to establish charter schools anywhere in the Commonwealth — with or without the approval of communities and local school boards.

In response, Senate Democrats made the following statements.

Said Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D – Loudoun), “Charter schools have a role to play in education, but we shouldn’t be imposing them on communities in a top-down process that leaves out local school boards and potentially ignores the voices of parents and teachers.”

Said Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D – Accomack), “Per-pupil K-12 funding today is sixteen percent lower than it was in 2009. Before we try making radical changes to our education system, we should ensure that our existing public schools actually have the resources they need to succeed.”

Said Sen. Barbara Favola (D – Arlington), “We have to do more to ensure that every child in Virginia has access to a great education — but giving the state a way to impose charter schools on communities, potentially against their wishes, is not the solution we need.”