Virginia is one of the few states that has held the line on charter schools. Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed efforts to loosen restrictions on new charters. The state has only 9 charters, and new ones can’t open without the endorsement of the local school board.
Two Democrats will be in a run-off on June 13: Lt-Governor Ralph Northam and former Congressman Tom Periello.
Northam, a physician, has been endorsed by most of the state and local Democrats.
Periello is running as a progressive, with the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and about 30 Obama Democrats. He is portraying himself as a man of the left.
But: Petriello worked for the Podesta Center for American Progress and he was selected as one of DFER’s favorite reformers in 2010. As a one-term Congressman, he voted to remove federal funding for abortion from the Obama healthcare bill. And he got an A from the NRA.
DFER, the lobbying group for hedge funders and charter schools, raised money for Periello in 2010, when he was running for re-election. It said, “Rep. Tom Perriello ‐ He represents a new generation of progressives in the U.S. Congress, the ones who understand education in the context of civil rights. He’s a critical supporter of President Obama’s education agenda but is facing a tough re‐election bid against a Republican state senator.” Worse, DFER chose Periello as its Reformer of the Month in June 2010.
In announcing that honor, DFER’s Whitney Tilson wrote: “Perriello was a strong supporter of Rep. Jared Polis’ All-STAR Act, which helps to replicate high-performing charter schools that serve at-risk students. The bill establishes new thresholds for data-driven accountability and transparency, helping to ensure that new charter schools maintain the high level of performance that today’s most trusted ones achieve.”
Periello has said his votes against gun control and against abortion funding were mistakes. But what about charters and high-stakes testing? Is he really changed? I’m not sure.
Northam, on the other hand, voted twice for George W. Bush.
Neither of these candidates is perfect.
But one of them, Ralph Northam, has made support for public schools a central pillar in his campaign. I have not found anything on the web about Periello’s views on privatization and school choice and charters.
Here is Ralph Northam’s commentary on the importance of public schools.
He writes here:
“I grew up on the Eastern Shore during desegregation. A lot of white parents chose to send their kids to private schools rather than integrate — but not mine. My brother and I both attended and graduated from public schools. It’s one of the best things that happened to me.
“After high school, I attended the Virginia Military Institute and then Eastern Virginia Medical School — both great public schools that prepared me well for my career as a physician and didn’t saddle me with a load of debt.
“My wife Pam taught elementary science, and both my kids are Virginia public school graduates, too. My son Wes graduated from the College of William & Mary, and my daughter Aubrey graduated from the University of Virginia. With all the bumper stickers we’ve collected over the years, you should see the back of my Prius!
“Public schools have given so much to our family — I’ve been proud to fight for them as a state senator and lieutenant governor. Some of the highlights of my political career include working with Governor McAuliffe to invest a record $1 billion in our K-12 public schools and leading the effort to win a federal grant that opened up 13,000 new spaces for our youngest Virginians to attend quality early childhood education programs.”
Given a choice between the two, I support Dr. Ralph Northam. In this crucial time for public schools, when the Trump administration is committed to privatization, the nation and Virginia need a governor who is able to stand up for public schools, with no ambivalence. I hope Northam wins the primary and goes on to become governor of Virginia. That should gladden the hearts of public school parents and teachers across the country.
And Senators Warren and Sanders should check into public education issues when deciding who gets their endorsement.
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