Tag Archives: Chris Braunlich

Bringing New Ideas to Education

Grace Creasey, executive director of the Virginia Council for Private Education

by Chris Braunlich

One of the challenges in public education – in any bureaucracy, public or private — is the tendency to establish an “echo chamber” of ideas.

In public schools, this reinforces the loudest voices and makes it hard for creative educators or an informed citizenry to burst through with new ideas.

In recent years, the Virginia Board of Education typified that problem. With five of nine members having spent most, if not all, of their careers in the public education echo chamber – as teachers, principals, professors, or superintendents – it typified Terry McAuliffe’s offensive declaration in the 2021 campaign that parents shouldn’t have a voice in their child’s education.

Suparna Dutta, Educators for Glenn

But it wasn’t always that way. When I served on the Board of Education, only two appointees had spent their entire careers as public-school employees … and that assumes you include an engineering professor at a state university. Previous Boards also included a diverse group.

In an era of pandemic shutdowns and declining standards, the time has come for the Board to give new approaches a look. The appointment of five new members of the State Board of Education by Governor Glenn Youngkin starts a return in balance to previous compositions, and his appointees are a diverse group of thought leaders. Continue reading

Reject the Cut, Help the Students

by Chris Braunlich

Cruise over to the website of Cristo Rey Richmond High School, and you’ll learn that all of the students there are from low-income families.

You’ll also read about scores of national and local partnerships, providing hundreds of work-study opportunities to teach students the art and science of working in an office environment and the soft skills of communications, customer service, office etiquette, and team building – the sort of skills employers highly value and that make young people highly employable.

What you won’t learn is that those positive programs – and the future of their scholars — may now be in severe jeopardy.

The school came to Virginia because of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit (EISTC), a program offering donors to qualified scholarship programs serving low and moderate income children a 65% state tax credit. Last year, more than $600,000 in scholarships helped Cristo Rey serve students who needed a better educational placement, and whose family incomes come in at less than $65,000 for a family of four. Continue reading

Can Education Standards Be Brought Back?

by Chris Braunlich

“… score standards were adopted that made it easier for students to pass; and changes in accreditation regulations let schools off the hook for their failures.”

The words of Governor Glenn Youngkin at Thursday’s unveiling of a new report analyzing the decline of Virginia’s public education?

Nope. They came from The Washington Post, in a February 8, 2020 editorial titled “Virginia made a mistake by easing its academic standards.”

Three years earlier, The Post presciently predicted the standards decline after interviewing the future governor: “Mr. Northam claimed to believe in accountability, but was utterly unable to explain what he means by the word,” as Northam suggested different standards for different students.

An editorial titled, “Virginia’s retreat from academic rigor,” noted: “Creating different expectations for children does them no favors; it just allows adults to escape responsibility…. The emphasis appears to be not on actually improving schools but rather on approving how they appear….”

This was precisely the result of the last eight years. And it is precisely what the Virginia Department of Education report has exposed. Continue reading

A Bold Reform for Education Funding

by Chris Braunlich

(Author’s Note: Eight years ago, we suggested incoming Governor Terry McAuliffe pursue a bold education funding reform that would modernize and supercharge Virginia’s education infrastructure. He chose not to. We offer it again, verbatim, to Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin … because we believe the idea crosses ideological lines and party divides and would represent the first full-throated reform of Virginia education funding in decades. Judging from his appointments, Mr. Youngkin has been more than willing to move beyond “business as usual,” and that tendency portends well for the Commonwealth.)

11/11/2013 — George Allen and Standards of Learning reform. Jim Gilmore and car tax reduction. Bob McDonnell and transportation reform. That’s what we remember.

So what does Governor-elect McAuliffe want to be remembered for when he walks out of the office?

How about reforming K-12 education through “Weighted Student Funding?” This is a concept attracting attention from Governors as diverse as Jerry Brown (D-CA) and Rick Snyder (R-MI), and policy analysts from Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to John Podesta, who chairs the center-left Center for American Progress. Here’s why – Continue reading