Selected readings on US charter schools
This is what his staff has been trying to create across Virginia, he said – charter schools – just like the one that opened this fall at Green Run High School. But it’s been slow going. So when McDonnell heard about the charter school in Virginia Beach, he said, he wanted to visit.
“You guys are trailblazers. First year ever of the Green Run Collegiate – I think this is so exciting,” McDonnell told a group of students early Wednesday morning. “We’ve been working on charter school legislation and trying to encourage a lot of divisions to look at this idea … but you’re only the fifth one to take it up.”
Charter schools are funded by, but run separate from, school divisions, with some flexibility on state rules that govern public schools. Often they’re created by outside organizations, but in Virginia Beach, division officials and the School Board conceived and created Green Run Collegiate. The school does have its own governing board.
Javaid Siddiqi, the state’s deputy secretary of education, said McDonnell is very interested in school choice, and that includes charter schools. But Virginia hasn’t been known as a friendly state for charters – they have to jump through too many hoops, Siddiqi said.
In the last legislative session, McDonnell sponsored a bill meant to ease those requirements by allowing boards to approve charter schools without authorization from the state Board of Education. He has also overseen charter school grants – Green Run Collegiate received a $25,000 state grant and is hoping for another this fall.
Since the legislation passed last spring, Norfolk has floated a plan to convert 10 public schools into charters. Green Run Collegiate, McDonnell said Wednesday, could be a model for divisions across the state.
On Wednesday, the governor asked Green Run Collegiate leaders how many students are enrolled (123 freshmen), how they were selected (by a citywide lottery), and what programs they’re in (International Baccalaureate and Advancement Via Individual Determination, which gives middle achievers a boost with organization and study skills).
He asked students why they chose the charter school and how it’s going so far. One said his mother persuaded him to apply. Another said she wanted to be in IB and AVID and would have had to pick one or the other if not for Green Run Collegiate.
And one said that in the first few weeks, she’s been impressed with how much the teachers really care.
“You can feel the love,” Tia Haynes said.
Alex Narducci, a senior at Green Run High School and editor of the student newspaper, said the visit from a major public figure should help Green Run’s reputation.
It’s important, she said, “because I really do love this school.”
Source: HamptonRoads.com – by Elisabeth Hulette, The Virginian-Pilot