By Les Schreiber
Virginia’s General Assembly gets underway in a few hours in an important session for Governor Bob McDonnell. His party totally controls both houses of the Legislature and due to Virginia’s unique succession and budget laws this is the only budget that will be totally his. This is “his” session.
The Governor has indicated several laudable goals for higher education. He wants to increase the number of degrees granted and find a way to increase productivity in higher education by shortening the time it takes to receive an undergraduate decree. One easy way to aid the Governor in his goal is to repeal Virginia’s “King’s Dominion Law.”
This piece of legislation prevents Virginia’s school districts from opening before Labor Day. This law is an impediment to the Governor’s goals.
One of the best ways to prepare high schoolers for college and to earn college credit is by participating in the Advanced Placement System. Advanced Placement courses are taught in high schools by high school faculties. In early to mid-May, students sit for a national exam. These exams are rated on a score of 1-to-5. Most colleges give credit for a score of “3″ or better. This program thus allows high school students to arrive at university with credits under their belt. Research also shows that exposure to A.P. classes in high school leads to better academic achievement at the university level. However, Virginia students begin with a handicap.
The King’s Dominion Law put Virginia at a disadvantage by denying them instructional time to prepare for the test. The Los Angeles School District, the home of Disneyland, opens school for the year in early August, while the tourist-dependent Miami/Dade County Florida area opened this academic year on August 23rd. Most of the private schools in the Richmond area begin before Labor Day.
Moving the school calendar forward would cost nothing, while aiding in the Governor’s goal of increasing productivity of the educational system. This should be a slam-dunk.