Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Video: Sen. Locke Passionately Speaks Out Against Charter Schools Proposal

Education is definitely receiving a lot of attention down in Richmond, as it should because there are some members of the General Assembly and the Executive Branch who want to balance the state budget on the back of students. One of the issues that was addressed on the floor of the Senate today was a proposal to take funds away from public schools in order to fund charter schools. Now I believe there are good arguments on both sides of this debate, but I tend to agree with the remarks made by Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton).

Sen. Locke spoke passionately about how she grew up in a situation where the statistics suggest she shouldn't have been fortunate enough to serve in the state Senate. One of the reasons that she was indeed able to beat the odds was because she received a good public education. As a result, she strongly believes in the need to continue supporting our public schools despite the efforts by some to undermine the public school system.
I stand here because I lived in a community that valued education and impressed upon me that value. I had public school teachers that were pillars of the community and would not accept mediocrity. I had a family that said ‘get as much education as you can.’ I had political voices in my community, both elected and non-elected, who respected the public education system, as the means by which the playing field could be leveled, and they supported efforts to make it so.

Those are the voices that I choice to emulate. Not those that would tell me that public education is so seriously broken that it can only be fixed through charter, laboratory, and virtual schools.

For a couple of decades now, there have been many efforts to undermine public schools in this country and here in Virginia. Through vouchers, charter schools, home schooling, and other efforts masquerading as reform, cuts in funding, programs, and teachers, many schools have been left behind despite No Child Left Behind. Now what we have a proposals that will create a schism between the haves and the have nots. The majority of children will be left out. The future of children in their education will be relocated to the game of chance -- the luck of the draw.
Sen. Locke went on to point out how these programs take resources away from the public schools, which is one of the ways the proposed changes could lead to the "schism between the haves and the have nots" since the "have nots" wouldn't necessarily be able to attend these schools. When we are facing tough economic times and our local school systems are already having to make severe cuts, I agree with the Senator from Hampton on this and believe we need to be examining at how to improve our public schools with the little money available and not looking at ways of diverting even more funds to other projects.

For those of you who are interested, here is the video of Sen. Locke's speech.

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