In the course of their relentless race to the left, Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello have demonstrated for voters that they will say or do anything to out-progressive the other. In their third Democratic debate, they made clear their opposition to public charter schools – an indication of just how out of touch with Virginia families they truly are:
Moderator: “As we’ve seen right here in Richmond, while many elected school board members and school district administrators don’t like charter schools, many parents love them, and will actually take part in a lottery to get their child into them. Do you oppose or support the expansion of charter schools?”
Tom Perriello: “I do not support the expansion of that.”
Ralph Northam: “So when you talk about things like charter schools, which on a regional basis may be an option, but we’re not there yet.” (Democratic Primary Debate, 5/9/17)
With only 9 public charter schools – and ranking 39th of the 44 states with a public charter law – Virginia is simply not meeting the needs of students and families across the Commonwealth. Neighboring states, meanwhile, have hundreds of charter schools — 50 in Maryland and more than 160 in North Carolina.
In March, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed four bills that would have expanded school choice for Virginia’s families. He was wrong to do so, and it’s obvious Ralph Northam would have done the same.
Ed Gillespie, on the other hand, has been a strong supporter of school choice initiatives, including funding for public charter schools in Virginia. In March, he visited York River Academy, a charter school in Yorktown and spoke about the importance of increasing the number of public charter schools across the Commonwealth.
“Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello should stop putting politics ahead of opportunities to strengthen schools and enhance our system of education,” said Gillespie. “Giving parents more options like public charter schools will improve all public schools, and help ensure that every child in Virginia has access to a quality education.”
“Ed Gillespie understands the importance of empowering parents to be more involved in the decision-making in their children’s educations,” said Sam Boone, Member of the Chesapeake School Board. “As governor, he will support public charter schools and work hard to improve Virginia’s system of education at-large.”
Chris Braunlich, former president of the Virginia Board of Education, commented, “Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam would deny students in persistently unaccredited schools a brighter future where they would have the opportunity to attend successful charter schools like the KIPP Academies, where 94 percent of low income children graduate high school and 81 percent go on to college. This doesn’t just deny parents educational choices; it denies students educational justice.”
“Virginia must make public charter schools a priority because it’s critical that parents have more choice in their children’s education,” said Ashley McLeod, member of the Virginia Beach City School Board. “I know that the next Republican Governor will work to strengthen Virginia’s education system, including working with the General Assembly and local school boards to support the foundation of more public charter schools in the Commonwealth.”