Governor Bob McDonnell Signs First Initiative of “Opportunity to Learn” Education Reform Agenda


--McDonnell Travels to Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia to Highlight Legislation Establishing College Partnership Laboratory Schools--



Governor’s Education Reform Measures Received Broad Bipartisan Support; Joined at Event by Republican and Democratic Lawmakers, University Officials, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones

CHARLOTTESVILLE -College Partnership Laboratory Schools are public, nonsectarian schools established by a public institution of higher education operating in the Commonwealth and operating a teacher education program approved by the Board of Education. They are created by contract between the higher education institute establishing the school and the Board of Education. Students that attend college lab schools can benefit from the resources available to higher education institutions and would not be limited by the administrative constraints of traditional public schools. College lab schools provide for more flexibility, innovation, and autonomy, outside of the traditional public school system, but are still subject to the Standards of Quality, Standards of Learning, the Standards of Accreditation. This flexibility will help ensure that students have the opportunity to attend a school that best fits their individual learning style, while learning from quality teachers. Lab schools are designed to offer options and innovation for all Virginia schoolchildren, but especially those who are disadvantaged or at-risk. The legislation signed today was patterned after a measure put forward by Mayor Jones in 2006.

Speaking about today’s bill signing ceremony, Governor McDonnell remarked, "It could not be more fitting that we are signing these bills at the University of Virginia – one of the nation’s top universities and an institution that has expressed interest in opening up a college laboratory school. College partnership laboratory schools will give public school students new opportunities to learn in a challenging environment, taught by great teachers from Virginia’s universities. Lab schools offer students more flexibility, innovation and autonomy, while providing access to the state of the art resources possessed by our Commonwealth’s institutions of higher learning. Students who attend lab schools will gain expertise in subjects crucial to success in our global economy, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They will be better prepared for today’s highly-skilled, high-demand jobs."

Governor McDonnell continued, "College laboratory schools are just one way by which we will continue to provide Virginia’s students with the educational opportunities they deserve. I have said many times before, a child’s educational opportunities should be determined by her intellect and work ethic, not by her zip code. This session we placed an emphasis on passing legislation encouraging positive education reform through the expansion of charter schools, virtual schools and college lab partnership schools. All three of these education reform initiatives passed with bipartisan support in the General Assembly. All three will provide our young people and their parents with increased access to options and innovation in our public schools, particularly students who are disadvantaged or at-risk."

Senator Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg), who led the effort to pass "The Opportunity to Learn" agenda in the State Senate, commented, "The resources and opportunities made available by partnering with local colleges through laboratory schools will truly improve Virginia’s public education system by leaps and bounds. By allowing K-12 schools to partner with Virginia’s excellent public universities, students will have the ability to learn in a more innovative, flexible and challenging environment."

Delegate Chris Peace (R-Mechanicsville), patron of the college laboratory bill in the House, added, "I am thrilled by our success this legislative session in expanding educational opportunities for Virginia’s young people. College partnership laboratory schools are a great way to provide students access to valuable educational resources, especially those students who are disadvantaged or at-risk."

Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who served as chief co-patron of the college laboratory legislation in the House also noted, "Virginia has one of the best college and university systems in the world. Encouraging our primary and secondary schools to partner with these top-notch institutions of higher learning will increase the opportunities available, and the potential for achievement, for our school-age children."