For years, we have tolerated poorly performing public schools whose students fail to meet state standards. Many students in these schools face some of life’s greatest challenges, so the stakes are high when they don’t achieve academically. As a 41-year veteran teacher, districtwide language arts specialist and elementary principal — and now as a board member of Virginia’s Opportunity Education Institution — I sense that it’s time for us to say, “Enough is enough.”
Education reform took center stage last spring when the General Assembly established, with bipartisan support, the Opportunity Education Institution. The law requires that any public school that fails to meet the basic academic benchmarks required for state accreditation for four or more consecutive years will be supervised by the OEI board.
Currently, there are six schools involved — two in Petersburg, three in Norfolk and one in Alexandria. Since the institution’s inception, many local school boards have questioned the law’s constitutionality, and a Norfolk circuit judge will rule on that issue this spring.