An initiative designed to boost education opportunities for students throughout the Commonwealth may see its first student participants as early as next fall.
The concept of lab schools, the product of partnerships between Virginia universities and K-12 schools throughout the state, has been a key platform promoted by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has lauded the initiative’s ability to increase student accessibility to hands-on sciences and innovation via the participating institutions.
So far, nearly 40 collegiate programs have signed on to the program, with 25 receiving startup grants totaling $100 million to fund classroom materials, equipment, renovations, and staffing, among other items.
“This shows incredible interest across the Commonwealth on building these schools, and people are ready to go,” Aimee Guidera, the Virginia secretary of education, said during a Wednesday board meeting. “And they keep thinking they’ve missed the deadline, so we would love to be able to say, ‘It’s time. It’s time that you can apply for these.’”
A significant segment of efforts to enhance student accessibility to select fields, meanwhile, includes making these programs available to communities that have traditionally been left out of such discussions.
“We are serious about making sure that these schools of innovation are targeted students, who have traditionally been underserved — that the system has not served as well — and making sure that we’re doing that in every single region,” Guidera added.
“And that’s critical, and this is about improving student achievement.”
Some Democratic legislators have been critical of lab schools, saying they could take funds and attention from public schools, reported VPM.
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