Virginia Governor Says No to Federal Interference in School System

In his weekly "Ask the Governor" spot on the Jimmy Barrett Show on WRVA in Richmond, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell didn't mince words when asked about whether his state would buy into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

I don't want to have a federal bureaucracy monitoring whether or not we are having the right programs in our schools. [snip]

The bottom line is we don't need the federal government with the Common Core telling us how to run our schools in Virginia. We'll use our own system which is very good. It's empirically tested.

Many critics of the CCSS say the Department of Education has usurped the rights of individual states by setting up an offer which the states find hard to refuse. Race to the Top, the DoED's competitive grants program, asks states to apply then rates them on a 500 point scale. 70 of those points include agreeing to change over to the Common Core. Even if they didn't win funds from RTTP, all but two states have chosen to implement CCSS.

McDonnell argues that his state had applied to RTTP, but was "penalized because in Virginia we had chosen not to adopt the common core standards." Since the National Governors Association was a co-sponsor in the formation of Common Core, it's interesting that McDonnell has chosen a divergent path from the NGA.

The governor also explained how in Virginia's latest legislative session, education reform took a "top priority." The state made sweeping changes to reflect the national reform movement. For example:

We gave teachers their first raise in five years; put a 2 % new merit pay premium on top of that... We basically ended teacher tenure by saying one bad performance review we can have you removed by a principal.

If the governor of Virginia has the courage to reject the temptation of money dangled by the federal government, and the wherewithal to make revisions to educational policies as well as to keep his state solvent during these difficult economic times, then there are too many other states who gave in when they didn't have to.

States must hold on to their rights even as the federal government bears down and attempts to impose itself on them. Governor McDonnell, thank you for standing your ground.

Read more Ann Kane at Potter Williams Report


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