Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has put out a sweeping controversial new education plan which is drawing widespread criticism from diverse groups of people ahead of the Nov. 2 election.
Among other points of contention, critics are raising concerns about the potential for the plan to take the state back to the busing system which was seen decades ago. At that time, students often had to spent long amounts of time travelling to and from their schools, which were often far from where they lived.
The plan could also have the potential to shut children out of their own neighborhood schools, when parents often buy homes using nearby schools as one of the main criteria for the purchase.
At one point, the report suggests that "diversity" should be a key criterion for accreditation of an educational institution, saying:
"Since diversity is necessary for a quality education and adequate workforce preparation, it should be part of the accreditation process."
The report also urges the need to "work with developers to drastically improve access to affordable housing so that families can locate in areas with high-performing schools." This would mean, according to critics, the possibility of cramming large buildings with multi-unit public housing in the middle of neighborhoods currently only allowing single-family homes.
The report also details the possibility of students having to go back to travelling long distances daily, while, at the same time, suggesting re-drawing school district boundaries: "Typically, a student would be assigned to a school close in proximity and that the neighborhood they live in is 'zoned' for. However, having established the persisting legacy of housing and education segregation in the state, it becomes clear that this method results in segregated and often under-resourced schools."
"One way to approach this issue is through intra-district zoning policies that maintain socioeconomic and racial equity as its guiding principle alongside specific diversity goals," the Commonwealth Institute plan says.
As it stands, McAuliffe has fallen behind his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin, in recent polls related to the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial race.